Leprosy control in Ethiopia
WHO office in Ethiopia, Photos Pierre Virot (WHO)
10 years ago Tuberculosis (TB) control by using the promoted WHO strategy begun in the vast Oromiya Region and to date this effective strategy has been introduced in 519 districts, 88% of the nations total. This achievement led to the impressive number of 105,000 new patients being diagnosed and treated in the past reporting year (July 01 to June 02), an increase of 15 % compared with the previous year. The funds for vast amount of drugs required to treat all these patients has been secured for the coming 3 years and drug shortage did not occur in the past year.
Leprosy remains a significant public health problem and in the reported year almost 5,000 new cases were diagnosed and treated. After many years of gradual decline, a slight increase has been observed over the past 2 years. More seriously is the fact that an increasing number of patients present with disability, the most feared complication of leprosy.
The control of both debilitating diseases is furthers facilitated by the full integration of the diagnosis and treatment in the general health services, where dedicated health workers provide care to the daily number of patients. This integration has required intensive training and supervision, both provided at woreda (district), and regional level. The TB & Leprosy Diseases Prevention and Control Team (TLCT) with WHO support provides technical support, initiates operational research, coordinates the drug supply and management. Funding is secured by intensive communication with the donor community. Most recently the TB component of the Ethiopian Proposal to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, has been fully approved and the funds worth US$ 7,018,00 will soon be available to further strengthen TB control. The proposal includes among others collaborative activities between TB and HIV /AIDS Programmes in the care for patients and involvement of the community in TB control.