Leprosy patients get treatment in R1MC

A dermatologist from the Region 1 Medical Center (R1MC) in Dagupan City said there is a growing number of patients afflicted with leprosy seeking treatment in the hospital.

Dr. May Gonzales said aside from patients with acne problems which top their list, those with leprosy account the second-highest number of patients seeking treatment.

“We have a quite high census of leprosy because we are a referral center of entire Region 1,” Gonzales told local newsmen during a forum.

She said “complicated cases of patients”, or those who unable to be diagnosed in rural health units (RHUs) are treated at R1MC and free medication and at the same time contact tracing of the family,”.

“It is not a highly contagious disease like what some people think but what is needed is long contact with a person afflicted with leprosy because incubation period is about 10 to 20 years,” she pointed out.

Treatment for leprosy takes one to two years depending on its type, she added.

She explained that a single dose of rifampicin, makes disease 85 percent non-infectious, after a month, patient it becomes 95 percent non-infectious, and, therefore, patients don’t need to be isolated.

She said leprosy is transmitted by a patient through droplet infection like sneezing, coughing without covering his or her mouth or nose.

R1MC Department of Dermatology was recently classified as an advanced comprehensive center for dermatology it being the first dermatology department and training available outside Metro Manila in the North.

Gonzales said barangay health workers were trained last year on proper rapid screening or diagnosis on leprosy in order to decrease the stigma on patients with leprosy.

There are about 25 complicated cases currently being handled, she said. (PhilStar Wire Service)

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