IRIN Examines Rise In New Leprosy Cases In Remote Region Of Madagascar

IRIN examines an increase in new leprosy cases in Antalaha, a once-prosperous vanilla-exporting town in a remote region of Madagascar, where a 2009 military-supported coup brought the suspension of some foreign aid and trade benefits. The news service writes, “While people are becoming poorer and more susceptible to illness, the public health care system is receiving less money from the government.”

“Six to 12 months of treatment with multidrug therapy — a combination of two antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory (medicines that WHO distributes for free) — stops the disease from spreading, but there are other obstacles to overcome,” the news service reports, such as a declaration by Malagasy authorities in 2010 that leprosy had been eradicated from the country; the country’s tropical climate, which makes diagnosing the illness difficult because it causes many dermatological problems; the fact that many leprosy patients need care for the rest of their lives; and the need for bandages to dress wounds, which are often lacking in health centers (9/26).