The World Day to Combat Leprosy is remembered every last Sunday of the month. Janeiro Roxo brings awareness about prevention, treatments and prejudices.
January comes to an end with the date dedicated to raising awareness of a historical disease, which still worries the country’s health departments. thousand new cases per year in Brazil.
Despite being known for centuries, leprosy is a challenge in many cities. In Brazil, the regions considered to be hyper-endemic are the Midwest, North and Northeast, which correspond to almost 85% of the cases in the country, according to the Brazilian Society of Clinical Medicine (SBCM).
Infectocontagious, leprosy is caused by a bacterium and can cause, among the most common symptoms, changes in the skin, such as white, reddish or darkened spots. The disease is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium Leprae. Most of the population has immunity and resistance to it, however, the country’s cases turn on alerts.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 93% of leprosy cases in the South American continent are from Brazil. Sandra Durães, coordinator of the Hansen’s disease department of the Brazilian Society of Dermatology (SBD), explains that some characteristics should be considered as a yellow light for the infection.
?? The leprosy bacteria has a special affinity for the skin and peripheral nerves. On the skin, it will appear with spots that can be white, pink, red, lumps may appear on the skin, infiltrations, which are elevated red areas, and these lesions have the fundamental characteristic of presenting some alteration of sensitivity ??, explains the specialist.
Anyone who identifies some of these symptoms should note the type of change they encounter. Dermatologist by SBD, Wanessa Simão points out that the patient who presents any type of these spots should seek medical attention. ?? The main suspicion is that numb spots, with some degree of loss of tactile or painful sensitivity, and those spots that come and go, never disappear. The treatment scheme will depend on whether the patient is paucibacillary, has few bacilli on the skin, in lesions, or multibacillary, with many bacilli ??, he comments.
Leprosy can be transmitted by contact with droplets of saliva from someone sick with a person who is very close and prolonged, but there is a drug treatment provided by the Unified Health System (SUS). In the first dose of medicines, it is already possible to eliminate more than 90% of the transmission capacity. The remedies depend on the type of disease spectrum.
Paucibacillaries, that is, that have good resistance to the disease and few injuries, are treated with a drug association called Polychemotherapy, for about six months. Those with more severe cases can undergo treatment between one and two years. Doctors point out that compulsory isolation was carried out in the last century, when there was no clinical treatment, but this is no longer used.
Isabela Goulart, Scientific Director of the Brazilian Society of Hansenology and professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU), says that those actions still generate a lot of prejudice. ?? Isolating these people was the alternative found by the government, and there were the construction of several sanitariums or, at the time, so-called ?? leprosariums ??. We still pay for these consequences, of this compulsory isolation, because they have ex-patients and family members still in the community. And for that, in 1995, we had a law that banned the name leprosy to designate the disease.
In the skin
This prejudice is still faced today. Francisca Barros da Silva, a resident of Paraná, says she got fired from her job because of her illness, and went through several battles throughout her life. ?? I discovered the disease at the age of nine, but I was only treated correctly at the age of 21. The service was very difficult, because I lived in the rubber plantation, in Amazonas, where I was born. I only got treatment when I was in Curitiba and ended up getting pregnant from abuse and running out of resistance. Leprosy reactivated, I went to the doctor, I was diagnosed and sent to the old leprosarium.
Francisca had sequelae in her hands and lost her toes due to the disease. Nowadays, she does volunteer work in associations of people who have suffered from leprosy, to educate and raise awareness. ?? I still suffer from prejudice, because, in people’s eyes, we should be at the bottom of the bed waiting for alms. We die for society when we go to a leprosarium and when we leave too. We are even excluded from the family. But my job is to make society accept us and accept us to live in society ??.
She also recalls that leprosy is infectious, but currently it is easy to cure. ?? If the person does not seek care, the next patient will be inside their home. The focus of purple January is to make people aware that there is a cure ??, he says.
Hansenologist doctor Laila de Laguiche, founder and president of the Aliança Contra Leprosy Institute, says the challenge in the country is broad. ?? Leprosy deserves psychological attention, rehabilitation, clinical care, sometimes surgical. It is necessary to have the participation of patients and the community and awareness of health agents. This has to work as a gear. About two years ago, Mato Grosso innovated with a Department of Chronic Diseases ??, he quoted.
In a note, the Health Department of the State of Mato Grosso, the region with the highest number of cases in the municipalities, stated that it developed ?? several intersectoral actions ?? over the past 20 years, conducting an “incessant search for new cases and early diagnosis of leprosy”. The portfolio also cited actions carried out between 2018 and 2020, through the execution of the strategic state plan to fight leprosy.
?? Mato Grosso carried out: training of SUS professionals for early diagnosis, with more than 1,800 professionals distributed in the 16 health regions of the State; 2,749 health care services provided by the municipalities in partnership with Novartis, Roda Hans and Carreta Hanseníase, resulting in the diagnosis of 309 new cases of leprosy in adults and 10 new cases in children under 15; implementation of six specialized regional leprosy care clinics (AAER); teleconsulting and tele-education services through telehealth MT ??, exemplified the secretariat.
The best ways to prevent the disease are early diagnosis, correct treatment and investigation of contacts who live or have lived together with affected patients. The last Sunday of January is the National Day for Combating and Preventing Leprosy since Law No. 12,135, 2009.
Source: Brasil 61