Leprosy Control programme to be inaugurated in Northeast

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 June 2003, 00:20 GMT]
A workshop was held Thursday in Trincomalee on the implementation of an Integrated Leprosy Control Services Project in the Northeast province at the auditorium of the provincial ministry of health.

Inaugurating the workshop the secretary to the Northeast governor Mr.A.Amirthalingam said that Killinochchi and Mullaitivu districts in the Vanni region have been neglected in past in providing medical assistance to leprosy patients.

Dr.Sunil Settinayake, Director, Anti-Leprosy Control Programme in Sri Lanka said leprosy is high in the eastern province compared to other parts of the country. He said two out of ten thousand persons in the east suffer from leprosy. Now a programme to eliminate leprosy from the Northeast province has been formulated and it would be implemented in all parts of the province including Vanni districts.

Anti-leprosy campaign workshop
Director of the Anti-Leprosy Control Programme in Sri Lanka Dr.Sunil Settinayake speaking at the workshop.
He said, before the signing of the Cease-Fire Agreement, disease prevention was absent in districts of the northern province. "We have started a programme to detect new cases of leprosy in the districts of northern province. We have a comprehensive plan for the Northeast province to be implemented," said Dr.Settinayake.

Provincial Health officials Ms Dr.J.Suntharalingam, Dr.Gnanagunalan and the first Secretary of the Provincial Ministry of Health Dr.S.Nachchinarkiniyan also spoke.

Deputy Directors of health Services in all the nine districts in the Northeast and several other officials connected with the Leprosy Control Services Programme participated in the workshop.

"Northeast province has nine health districts. The northern province comprises five districts, Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Mannar while the eastern province has four districts Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Kalmunai and Ampara. More than a decade of war and civil conflict has resulted in a general breakdown of health infrastructure and services in these two provinces," said a report of the Anti Leprosy Control Programme prepared especially for implementation in the Northeast.

The report further states, "the current on-going peace process and the rehabilitation and reconstruction activities, have made it necessary to restore and intensify leprosy control services in the northeast in order to avert a resurgence of the disease. The return to normalcy is likely to encourage an influx of refugees from South India. Though Tamilnadu has a well-established leprosy control programme, the accessibility to and utilization of these services by Sri Lankan refugees is not known."

"In order to avert an outbreak of the disease, curative and preventive services need to be strengthened on one hand and public awareness of leprosy increased to facilitate case detection and encourage self-reporting. It is necessary to maintain an uninterrupted supply of drugs and to be vigilant in detecting modes of presentation hitherto unfamiliar to Sri Lanka," said the report.

The report adds, "Up to now the Novartis Fund for Sustainable Development (NFSD), the World health Organization (WHO) and Leprosy Control Emmaus have provided the major proportion of funds required for preventive and curative activities. The government provides for staff emoluments and infrastructure maintenance. With the impending phasing out of support from the NFSD there is an urgent need to identify funds to meet the expanded activities to be undertaken in the northeast. The investment in preventive and control activities in the northeast at this stage should be considered a vital and cost effective investment that will help support and accelerate the achievment of the national target of elimination of leprosy."

Anti-leprosy campaign workshop
(L-R) Dr.Ms J.Suntharalingam (provincial health ministry official) Mr.Amirthalingam, (NE Governors' Secretary), Dr.Nachchinarkiniyan (NECORD official) and Dr.E.G.Gnanagunalan (NE Health Ministry official).


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