In Summary
  • Experts say little money is given to programmes meant to detect and treat the disease, train health workers and create awareness.

Leprosy, one of the oldest and most stigmatised diseases, is still in Kenya, three decades after the country was declared free of the bacterium.

Kilifi, Siaya, Busia, Homa Bay and Kisumu are the most affected counties, according to the Nation’s Literature Review of Open Access studies conducted between 2013 and 2018.

Turkana is the least affected county, the study says. Experts blame the situation on poor surveillance.

They say little money is given to programmes meant to detect and treat the disease, train health workers and create awareness.

Leprosy is a contagious illness caused by the Mycobacterium leprae bacterium. It can be easily cured with a combination of drugs if detected early.

NUMBNESS

When not treated, it leads to limb deformities. Patients can also go blind and may never be sensitive to pain or heat because their nerves are damaged.

The incubation period — the time it takes to develop into a disease once the bacteria get into one's body — is three to 10 years, or more depending on a person’s immunity.

In Kenya, leprosy is among the 15 neglected tropical diseases.

However, it is under the tuberculosis programme, perhaps because of the similarities between the bacteria that cause TB and leprosy.

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