Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Sunday the health sector’s dream of “a world without leprosy” is making headway as the target year 2020 nears.
He said the innovations and breakthroughs in multi-drug therapy and New Technologies had paved the way for an enriched quality of life for the people afflicted with leprosy.
“Our success is a story of dignity and triumph of the human spirit, and today, we look back at these past successes to remind us of what we are all here for-to care for and celebrate humanity, Duque said.
He said the International Leprosy Congress had been hard at work for many years to realize our ultimate dream of a world without leprosy.
The ILC has been conducted every three to five years for over 100 years, beginning with a meeting in Berlin in 1897.
Organized by the International Leprosy Association since its establishment in 1931, these meetings have consistently brought together the leading experts in leprosy work, scientists and researchers in various aspects of the disease, people affected by leprosy, advocacy groups, charitable organizations that support leprosy work, and representatives of Ministries of Health throughout the world.
Throughout the years, Duque said, the course of the Department of Health’s response to leprosy had transformed from isolation, segregation and quarantine approaches to inclusive client-centered, community-based approaches.
He recalled the humble beginnings of the Department of Health, which could be traced back to the establishment of the San Lazaro Hospital, which was dedicated to the care of people afflicted with leprosy back in 1578.
The Health department has now come full circle as the institutionalization of this people-centered care has paved the way for a system whose desired ending is what is now called Universal Health Care.
The vision for Universal Health Care is tied with the aspirations of the 2016 to 2020 Global Strategy for Leprosy and Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
These are zero stigma, wherein people affected with leprosy participate and contribute in the daily economic activities of their community; zero disability, wherein cases are recognized, referred and treated early to prevent the onset of complications brought about by the disease; zero transmission, wherein after the prompt initiation of treatment of identified cases, contact tracing is pursued; and zero disease, wherein all those identified to have a potential risk of exposure to leprosy are given preventive treatment and observed continuously.
Duque said this year’s Congress on leprosy emphasizes the need for a global partnership to create a world without leprosy.
He said the government’s successes may be defined by the relationships that were made and continued to be made, the partnerships that bore the fruits of innovation and the resilience of the entire community.
“Our long history of leprosy care is proof that if we are to achieve these goals, we must work together, Duque said.