Perturbed by the living conditions of leprosy victims, the Executive Director of Voice of Humanitarian Aid Foundation (VOHAF), Mrs. Franca Emekobum, has urged Nigerians to support leprosy victims as their living conditions deteriorate every day.
Emekobum said leprosy victims battling hunger, malnutrition, hypertension and other ailments that could be terminal.
Speaking when the foundation visited and donated food items to inmates of Yaba Leprosy Centre, Okobaba Ebute-Metta Lagos, she said leprosy patients need love and attention, while urging Nigerians to show love and care for the victims rather than discriminate against them.
On the impact of leprosy, she said: “The disease has wreaked an irreparable socio-economic havocs in the lives of the victims. Their living condition is very poor.
“Apart from the growing cases of malnutrition resulting from persistent hunger and lack of balanced diet, there is also poor sanitation in the colonies, which poses a great danger to the survival of the inmates, who live their lives every day in an extremely unhygienic environment.”
She said owing to the deplorable condition, leprosy patients are exposed to terminal health challenges, such as glaucoma, hypertension, diabetes, asthma and other ailment.
While stressing that colonies were established for leprosy patients because of the stigma and discrimination in the society, she lamented: “Those unfortunate to contract the diseases can no longer do their business because people don’t patronise them due to the stigma associated with leprosy. The loss of business opportunities has worsened the case of most of them.
“Also, the inability for victims to afford balanced diet is the reason for growing diabetes among them.”
One of the victims, who identify himself as Isiaka Mohammed, speaking on behalf of others, urged government to empower leprosy victims by giving them access to medical facilities, food, shelter and clothing.
He said: “We should acquire vocational skills. If we are trained in vocations, it would reduce our poverty level. Government has failed to initiate socio-economic programme and employment opportunity for us.
“Our children need to go to school; they have a right to basic amenities, power supply, pipe borne water, healthcare and good food, among other things.”