29 Jul 2010

WHO says remoteness a problem for leprosy-endemic Marshall Islands

7:32 pm on 29 July 2010

The World Health Organisation says the remoteness of parts of the Marshall Islands make it difficult to reduce the incidence of leprosy.

The Ministry of Health has announced the discovery of 33 new cases on three islands in a report on the year's health activities to the United States government.

The WHO's Pacific representative says leprosy is endemic in the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati.

Dr Chen Ken says detection or case-finding is a major challenge, as is ensuring people receive a full course of treatment.

"One of the strategies we're working with with those three countries is to improve the case-holding to ensure that every identified case has completed the multi-drug treatment. It takes about a whole year. Leprosy immunity programmes should be an integral part of the whole health system."

Dr Chen Ken says leprosy can definitely be eradicated in the Pacific.