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Financial Hurdles to Eliminating Leprosy in Micronesia

PHOHNPEI, Apr 2 2019 (IPS) - Mayleen Ekiek has been working with the Department of Health in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) for 12 years now. She is the head of the National Leprosy Programme in the Pacific island nation, which still remains one of three, along with the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, that is yet to eliminate leprosy.

Ekiek is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the leprosy programme, as well as its success.

However, as Ekiek reveals in this interview, the absence of funding at a national level is one of the many roadblocks that she faces. In what seems to be a growing trend across the Micronesia region, FSM also has combined diseases to provide an integrated healthcare service. In this nation the treatment of both tuberculosis and leprosy is combined. However, while there are regular budgetary allocations for TB, there are none for leprosy, otherwise known as Hansen’s disease.

Despite the lack of funding, Ekiek has managed to keep the programme alive because of her sheer grit and passion for seeing a Leprosy-free Micronesia.

During a recent visit of the Sasakawa Health Foundation/Nippon Foundation team to Micronesia’s Health Ministry, Ekiek was on sick leave thanks to a fractured her leg. But to everyone’s surprise, Ekiek attended the meeting as she viewed it as a vital opportunity to seek the resources she needs for the leprosy programme. In the following interview, Ekiek talks about the financial and technical support needed achieve the programme’s goal of eliminating leprosy.




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