A Public Health Expert, Mercy Ekele says raising awareness on leprosy disease and dispelling misinformation are key to reducing the stigmitisation that victims suffer.

Ekele spoke in Abuja, as the world marked this year’s World Leprosy Day, with the theme for this year’s ceremony as: “Ending Discrimination, Stigma and Prejudice”.

Leprosy is an infectious disease of the skin and nerves which, if not diagnosed and treated quickly, could result in debilitating disabilities. The effects of leprosy are exacerbated by the negative stigma surrounding the disease.  

The expert said leprosy is curable and was not transmitted by casual contact between people. She said that people being treated could live a normal life if given the opportunity.

Ekele urged the Federal Government to be committed to the efforts toward eliminating leprosy, and against the stigmatisation and exclusion that people with leprosy suffer. She noted that very little had been achieved by the government towards reducing discrimination and the stigma faced by Nigerians affected with leprosy.

The World Leprosy Day is celebrated on January 30th, to increase public awareness of the disease.