World Leprosy Day : CERAC Communes With Victims

The charity association of the First Lady has handed gifts to former patients at the Yaounde Leprosy Centre, yesterday, January 31.

For over 25 years, the Circle of Friends of Cameroon (CERAC) has joined the world in solidarity, to commemorate the World Leprosy Day, with the aim of raising awareness and knowledge about leprosy. Founded by the First Lady of Cameroon, Chantal Biya, the charitable association yesterday, January 31, 2021, on the occasion of the 68th World Leprosy Day, honoured the rendezvous at the Leprosy Home of the Jamot Hospital in Yaounde. The CERAC delegation, headed by one of its Vice President, Jacqueline Koung a Bessike paid a solidarity visit at the centre with gifts of love amongst which foodstuffs and clothing. 

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Jacqueline Koung a Bessike, on behalf of the First Lady, said it was a moment to show compassion with brothers and sisters who have been victims of the leprosy disease as well as their families. Looking at the theme of the day; “Leprosy Is Not What You Think”, Jacqueline Koung a Bessike said even after 150 years of the discovery of the leprosy pathogen, the negative myth the society has towards leprosy victims is still strong. She underlined that leprosy is not a hereditary nor an illness linked to bad luck or sorcery.   

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Overcoming leprosy, the representative of the First Lady said, involves more than early diagnosis and prompt treatment. It also requires changing mindsets so that leprosy is no longer a source of shame or prejudice. As such, she said the population must remove all barriers in the way of those seeking medical care, eliminate the obstacles that prevent affected individuals and their families from living in dignity and enjoying all their basic human rights as full members of society. The gifts from the First Lady to leprosy victims, according to Jacqueline Koung a Bessike are a sign of solidarity, sharing and love, which everybody in Cameroon must emulate towards the sick. 

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The Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Health, Professor Louis Richard Njock said leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious diseases caused by mycobacterium leprae. The disease, he noted, mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes. He revealed that although the rate of leprosy in the country has dropped, the disease still exists in the Adamawa, Centre, North West and South West Regions. Noting that leprosy is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age, the Secretary General insisted that it is curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability. As such, he called on everybody to pay attention to any rash on the skin by going for medical care. 

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The representative of the beneficiaries, Theophile Efa expressed gratitude for the show of love towards them. He however lamented that they are still victims of stigmatisation as they are not accepted for treatment in certain health centres. 

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