The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has reiterated his call for an end to stigmatisation against cured lepers, as he assures of the government’s unwavering commitment to supporting them and also ending the disease.
Dr Bawumia last Sunday joined residents of the Weija Leprosarium in Accra, the Ghana Lepers Aid Committee and other stakeholders to mark the 2024 World Leprosy Day.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Bawumia, who is also the Chief Patron of the Ghana Lepers Aid Committee, said treating lepers with love is as important as putting in place measures to end the disease and therefore, called for cured lepers to be treated with love, as they pose no risk of transmission.
“Many people don’t understand that when leprosy is treated and cured, there is no risk of transmission,” Dr Bawumia said.
“This is what we have to understand as Ghanaians and as human beings; when you meet a cured leper, you have to show them love by touching and hugging them. There is no risk of transmission.
“Let us deal with the cured lepers with love and care. It is not their fault that they contracted this disease. It is an affliction, which could have happened to any of us,” Dr Bawumia said.
While urging society to embrace cured lepers, he also outlined measures the government has taken in the fight against the disease, including infrastructure development at various leprosariums across the country and support services.
“We are committed as a government to facilitating the provisions of national programmes to help these marginalised Ghanaians. They represent the very least and downtrodden in our society and they have hope in us. We, therefore, cannot let them down,” Dr Bawumia said.
“Through our work in the past seven years, we have improved the fight against leprosy and made the discovery in that area through better collaboration with the National Leprosy Programme under the Ghana Health Service. Surveillance has improved, case finding increased and treatment has reached more,” the Vice President added.
Despite the gains, Dr Bawumia noted that the disease, unfortunately, has not left the shores of Ghana and more needs to be done.
“It is still prevalent. However, it has been under reasonable
control because of collaboration with the Ghana Health Service. We still can do more for the good of our people.
“Our mission to end this disease has faced severe obstacles but our resilience has made us successful in many areas,” the Vice President indicated
The Vice President named government interventions, such as the redevelopment of the project at Weija Leprosarium, the renovations at Ankaful Leprosarium General Hospital, the Laboratory for Leprosy and Skin Conditions in Wa and the Leprosy Clinic at Kokofu.
“This year, we are equipping all these facilities through the District Assemblies Common Fund and commissioning them to operate. We have also distributed food to about 500 people
affected by leprosy in the country this January, courtesy of the District Assemblies Common Fund.”
“This year, Ankaful, Weija, Nkanchina, Wa, Doremu, Ho and
Kokofu districts have all benefited from food and Medical supplies. We are grateful to the District Assemblies Common fund.”
Dr Bawumia later cut the sod for the construction of a kitchen for the Weija Leprosarium, which he donated money to support.
World Leprosy Day is observed internationally on the last Sunday of every January to spread awareness about the disease.
Vice President Bawumia, a strong advocate against stigmatisation, often spends the day at a leprosarium.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD