MANILA, Philippines - The World Health Organization (WHO) is reminding the public that leprosy should not be ignored, with 5,000 new cases reported yearly in the Western Pacific, of which 2,000 are in the Philippines.
WHO Regional Director Shin Young-soo said the Philippines, which was declared largely free of leprosy in 1998, has 2,000 new cases still being recorded yearly.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said 2,000 cases are something everyone should be concerned about and that there could even be under-reporting.
"I have regular contact with private sector, especially with the Philippine Dermatological Society and they mentioned about early leprosy is not really that rare and they see this especially in the poor population and even the better off, so I think it should be in the radar of public health, general practitioners," Ona said.
He added that what's important is to let the public know that leprosy is curable.
He said the DOH also gives free treatment of the disease.
"Ang importante ngayon, ipaalam sa ating mga kababayan na kung na-diagnose ka ng leprosy, first huwag matakot kasi curable, second hindi na nakamamatay, and very early cases na ang na di diagnose ng leprosy. It's not anymore a disease that can cause death," he said.
He added, "Pag may boyfriend ka na may leprosy, huwag matakot, pwede pa rin kayong mag-kissing, pero magpagamot."