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A Leprosy-free Philippines by 2020?

MANILA, Mar 3 2019 (IPS) - Dr Maria Francia Laxamana, assistant secretary of health in the Department of Health, Philippines outlines her recommendations for a leprosy country by 2020.

She spoke to IPS the first ever Regional Assembly of Organisations of People Affected by Leprosy in Asia.

The three-day regional event was organised by the Philippine government-run Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital (CSGH), the Coalition of Leprosy Advocate of the Philippines, and the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation (SMHF). The SMHF’s parent organisation the Nippon Foundation (TNF) has been playing a decisive role in leprosy elimination since as far back as the late 1960s. From 1995 to 1999, TNF distributed multidrug therapy for free across the globe in cooperation with the World Health Organisation. 

According to Laxamana, only one in every four in the Philippines seek out medical treatment for the disease and social stigma is one of the main reasons why they hide their condition.

For the Philippines to achieve the global target of reducing leprosy cases by 2020, it would be crucial to have policies that could look at the disease in the local context and can provide solutions that are locally applicable.


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