No fewer than 4,000 new untreated leprosy cases are being recorded annually in Nigeria, mainly from the poverty-ravaged communities, the Leprosy Mission, Nigeria (TLMN) has said.

The mission’s Operation Manager, Mr Pius Sunday, made the disclosure on Wednesday in Sokoto at a seminar organised by the mission.

Sunday spoke at a one-day Annual State-Level Advocacy Seminar on “Roles of the Media and Elected Government Officials’’ to persons affected by leprosy and other diseases.

According to him, the menace is still prevalent in the country; it is the disease of the poor, aggravated by poor hygiene.

”The standard of living of people should be improved, with increased availability of good food and potable water, among others.

“Many of them (victims) cannot afford the meals that will boost their immune system and once they get infected, it can easily show,” he said.

Sunday, however, called on the three tiers of government to make their social support programmes ”very strategic and sustainable’’.

He said, “This is to squarely address the issue of poverty in the rural communities and further tame the disease.”

In his remarks, Alhaji Kabir Umar, the Deputy Coordinator, Sokoto State Tuberculosis and Malaria Control Programme, said that no fewer than 160 new leprosy cases were recorded in the state from 2016 to date.

Umar said that 92 of the cases were identified in Kebbe, Gudu and Rabah Local Government Areas during separate case finding missions conducted in 2016.

”The remaining 68 cases were reported from January 2017 to date,” the official said.

He appealed to the public to stop stigmatising victims of leprosy, saying that it was curable.

“Once there is early detection and treatment, it will not lead to any deformity and virtually all the people affected by the disease, who are seen on the streets, were completely cured in spite of their deformities.

“So, you can freely associate with them, shake them and even transact business with them, because they are no longer carrying the bacteria,” he said.

(Source: NAN)