World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized the Maldives as the first nation in the world to have achieved interruption of transmission of leprosy.
A commemorative plaque was presented to Health Minister Ahmed Naseem, attesting to the feat, at the ongoing meeting of the Regional Committee of WHO’s Southeast Asian regions in New Delhi, India. Regional Director of the WHO Southeast Asia Region Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh presented the plaque to the minister.
Health Ministry, in a tweet, congratulated all healthcare personnel, both past and present, who worked tirelessly to ensure the nation is free from leprosy.
Today, Maldives has been recognised by WHO as the first country to have achieved interruption of transmission of leprosy. Congratulations to all healthcare personnel past and present, who worked tirelessly to ensure the country is free of this debilitating disease. @WHOSEARO pic.twitter.com/6a6FWxTG6g— Ministry of Health (@MoHmv) October 31, 2023
Mycobacterium leprae is the chronic infectious illness that causes leprosy, sometimes referred to as Hansen's disease. The skin, peripheral nerves, eyes, and mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory system are all impacted by the condition.
In the days Maldives lacked treatment for leprosy patients, the patients contracting the disease were isolated and confined to specific areas of the islands. Some people also report leprosy patients were banished to uninhabited islands.
Some of these islands included Vilivaraa and Biyaadhoo in Male’ Atoll and Havodda and Fonadhoo in Huvadhoo Atoll.
Many Maldivians had suffered from leprosy before the country first introduced treatment for the disease in 1982.
However, following the introduction of treatment, the number of leprosy cases reported in the Maldives had significantly decreased. On average, approximately 7 to 10 cases were reported from a few islands were reported afterward.
In 2019, Maldives launched a ‘Zero Leprosy’ initiative with the target of becoming a nation that has completely eradicated the disease.