DOH exhorts individuals to have skin examined

February 18, 2011 11:16 am 

MANILA, Feb. 18 –Individuals with skin diseases are advised to go to their nearest health centers for free skin screening and skin ointments.

This is part of government's campaign in celebration of Leprosy Awareness Week third week, said Dr. Francesca Gajete, program manager of the Department of Health (DOH) National Leprosy Center. This year's theme is "Promoting Leprosy and Dignity Towards Free Country".

The main program of the campaign, "Kilatis Kutis Kampanya", is when patients are to go to the health centers to determine the nature of their skin diseases ringworm, tinea flava, eczema or leprosy.

"It is necessary to for them to come out and avail of the free services and live a normal life," Gajete said, noting that trained doctors could spot leprosy.

Also this week, partner dermatologists who are members of the Philippine Dermatological Society are giving free skin evaluation.

"During this time we try to empower our leprosy patients and those cured are given livelihood projects as well as allow them to interact with normal individuals as they are the ones doing social mobilization," Gajete said.

Leprosy is transmitted through the air via droplets from the nose and the mouth during close and frequent contact with untreated infectious cases.

The earliest sign of leprosy is usually a spot on the skin that may be slightly redder, darker, or lighter than the person's normal skin. The spot may lose feeling and hair. In some people, the only sign is numbness in a finger or toe.

"Leprosy is actually curable and treatment is free, and that stigmatizing people with the disease is wrong, Gajete said.

DOH data as of last December showed that of more 7,000 leprosy registered patients or about 50 percent or 2,500 new cases found in partner hospitals in Metro Manila are undergoing treatment.

On the positive side, of the 91 million Filipinos only about 5 to 10 percent will get the disease because we have this built in immunity to the disease," Gajete added.(PNA)

GJB/SDT/mec

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