Saturday May 25, 2019

Fear of Leprosy Resurgence in Nepal

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper

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Leprosy, Wikimedia

Health officials in Nepal fear leprosy resurgence in the country with prevalence rate reaching 0.94 per cent in 2018.

Leprosy-free status was given to the Himalayan nation after it declared elimination of the disease in 2009. However, that status could be lost if prevalence rate reaches one per cent of total population, Kathmandu Post reported on Thursday.

Experts already fear that this marks the resurgence of the disease in Nepal. The percentage could be more, an official said, as the current given figures have been derived just from preliminary data.

The Leprosy Control and Disability (LCD) section of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of Department of Health Services said that the prevalence rate was 0.92 and 0.89 in 2017 and 2016, respectively, the news report said.

“It will be a great setback for the country if it loses the status,” said Rabindra Baskota, a doctor and chief of the LCD section.

Incubation period of leprosy varies from one to 20 years and diagnosis of more patients could help stop the further spread of the disease, according to him.

An amputated leg, claw toes and claw hands of leprosy patient Gopal Bag are seen at the Leprosy Mission Trust India hospital. Kolkata. VOA

“It will take only a couple of years to reach one percent if this upward trend continues,” he added.

The prevalence rate is over one per cent in various districts of the Tarai region, Baskota said, adding that the country had received the leprosy eliminated status, after reducing its prevalence rate by 0.77 per cent, in 2009.

Sishir Silwal, a focal person for the leprosy control programme in Gulmi district, said regular review meetings for leprosy, which should be held every four months, has not been held for the last eight months.

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Kathmandu Post quoted Bibek Kumar Lal, Director at EDCD, as saying that there is a severe crunch in manpower that hinders proper functioning.

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper.

Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is transmitted through nasal secretion or from droplets from the mouth. It affects the skin, peripheral nerves and eyes, leading to disfigurement and nerve damage. The disease is curable with a multi-drug therapy. (IANS)

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Nepali Sherpa Breaks Own Record, Climbs Everest Twice in Week

Rita has already set a high mark for the climbers of the future. Two other Sherpas have scaled Everest 21 times each, but they have both since retired

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nepali sherpa, record, mount everest
FILE - Kami Rita Sherpa, a Nepali mountaineer, waves toward the media in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 20, 2018. VOA

It was not enough for a Nepali Sherpa to climb Mount Everest a record 24th time Tuesday, so he did it twice in the same week. Kami Rita reached the 8,850-meter peak at 6:38 a.m. Tuesday, six days after scaling the world’s tallest mountain for the 23rd time on May 15.

The 49-year-old told Reuters he was not yet done. “I am still strong and want to climb Sagarmatha 25 times,” he said, using the mountain’s Nepali name. Rita has already set a high mark for the climbers of the future. Two other Sherpas have scaled Everest 21 times each, but they have both since retired.

He began climbing Everest in 1994 while working as a guide for companies that organize expeditions. “I never thought about making records,” he told the BBC last week. “I actually never knew that you could make a record. Had I known, I would have made a lot more summits earlier.”

everest, nepali sherpa, record
Rita has already set a high mark for the climbers of the future. Two other Sherpas have scaled Everest 21 times each, but they have both since retired. Wikimedia Commons

Besides Everest, Rita has scaled some of the other highest mountains, K-2, Cho-Oyu, Manaslu and Lhotse. This year, Nepal has granted 381 climbing permits to 44 teams. Of those, 14 are Nepali, according to the Department of Tourism.

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As of Monday, at least 75 climbers had reached the top of Everest, according to The Rising Nepal. May offers a short window of favorable weather for the climbers.

Everest was first conquered in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Their route is the same one Rita and many other climbers still use today. (VOA)