By UCA News
About 500 people attended a rally and discussion meeting yesterday at Khagrachhari in the southeastern Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) to mark World Leprosy Day.
The event was organized by Chittagong Leprosy Control Mission, part of The Leprosy Mission International (TLMI), an NGO working to increase awareness about diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The World Health Organization declared the country leprosy-free 13 years ago, but the disease is returning to remote and poor areas as well as the capital Dhaka.
District deputy commissioner Anisul Haque said CHT was “among the most risky places for leprosy, because the tribal people are very [unaware] about leprosy as well as other diseases.”
They remain superstitious about leprosy, or Hansen ’s disease (HD), he said, and consider the disease as the fruit of sin.
“I request you people not to hide the disease and come [soonest] to the leprosy centers for treatment,” urged Haque.
Sanay Tripura, 42, a Tripura Catholic and local TLMI medical officer, said there are about 4,500 leprosy patients in the country today. He said CHT is among the most risky places for the disease, with the chances of catching it around one in 10,000.
In northwestern Dinajpur district some 100 former leprosy patients gathered to observe the day belatedly today.
According to TLMI, 3,800 fresh HD cases were found last year with 732 being Dhaka city dwellers. A report says many people hide the disease to escape social stigma.