The Executive Director, National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Jos, Dr Tahir Dahiru, has said that 3,500 people would be targeted in Bauchi State alone for the single dose Rifampicin post exposure prophylaxis (SDR-PEP)treatment under the Ready 4PEP project.
Dahiru disclosed this on Tuesday at the launch of the project in Misau Local Government Council of the state, citing Bauchi, Niger, Jigawa, Kebbi, Ebonyi and Cross River as the benefiting states in Nigeria.
He said that the programme would target 21,000 persons across the six benefitting states with contacts confirming that new and old patients would receive the SDR-PEP treatment.
“The treatment is in single dose and will target social and family contacts of confirmed leprosy patients in the selected areas.
“The pilot exercise was billed for three years according to the work plan, but because of COVID-19, baseline survey was delayed, so the donor agreed the project to be run from 2020 to 2023.
“The treatment consists of a single dose of the antibiotics rifampicin and is suitable for both children and adults,” he said.
In his speech, an official of the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy Control Center (NTLCP), Mr Umman Bassey said that SDR-PEP was a strategy towards zero leprosy infection, disease and disability.
“Nigeria is among the 23 countries around the world that contribute 97 percent of the world’s leprosy burden, with2,424 new leprosy cases reported in 2019 alone.
“The implementation of the Single Dose Rifampicin Post Exposure Prophylaxis (SDR-PEP) is a multi-stakeholder project, to be conducted in Nigeria and Mozambique,” he said.
He added that the initiative was a collaboration between Netherlands Leprosy Relief and the International Leprosy, Tuberculosis Relief Nigeria.
Bassey said that the exercise was aimed at implementing active case search, contact screening and administration of the single dose, by trained personnel provided with adequate logistics.
Dr Sani Dambam, Chairman, Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria (BACATMA), said that Shira and Misau LGAs were selected for the pilot exercise, due to their prevalence rates.
In his contribution, the Director, Primary Healthcare, Misau Local government council, disclosed that five centres had been established within the council area for the treatment of leprosy.
Alhaji Suleiman Ahmed, the Emir of Misau, applauded the Federal government initiative aimed at curbing the disease, while also commending all stakeholders in the programme for improving public health.