Wednesday, November 14, 2007

News:(TheStar)What is leprosy?

The Egyptian papyri, Hebrew Bible and Hindu Vedas all refer to leprosy as one of the oldest diseases known to mankind.

Contrary to popular belief, the disease does not cause body parts to fall off. However, leprosy does attack the nervous system, particularly those of the hands, feet and face where they feel no pain. Sufferers are hence more likely to injure themselves without realising it, resulting in missing limbs and facial features, and being called “hideous” or “the living dead”.

Leprosy sufferers first received treatment from seeds of the Hydnocarpus fruit which were planted in abundance at the settlement. Some still exist there today.

In the 1940s, Dapsone was discovered to control the disease, but due to the high incidents of relapse, patients underwent treatment for as long as 20 years to ensure there was no relapse.

In 1950, a research unit was set up at the Sungai Buloh Leprosy Settlement, putting it firmly on the world map as a leprosy research centre.

In 1959, there were 2,396 patients at the settlement. Today, there are 341 patients. In 1969, forced admission for permanent stay at a leprosarium was abolished. From then on, new patients were treated at clinics nearest their homes.

In the 1980s, Multi Drug Therapy (MTD) was discovered, consisting of three drugs – Dapsone, Rifampicin and Clofazimine – which provided the most effective treatment for leprosy.

Since 1985, the global prevalence of leprosy has been reduced by more than 90 per cent, says Dr Milton Lum, a trustee of the Commonwealth Medical Trust.

He adds that leprosy had been eradicated in 116 out of 122 countries where it was previously endemic. Malaysia is not an endemic country. In 2005, the prevalence rate for leprosy in Malaysia was 0.32 per 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The same year, 263 new cases were reported in the country, giving a new case detection rate of 1.1 per 100,000 people.

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1 comment:

Dan-yel said...

Do you know this information comes from Wikipedia?