Delay in leprosy diagnosis hampers treatment at Coast

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024 02:00 | By
Lab technician using microscope. PHOTO/Pexels

Delays in diagnosing leprosy remains a major challenge contributing to the persistence of the disease burden in Kwale and Kilifi counties, a new study has revealed.

The study titled Delay in Leprosy Diagnosis in Kilifi and Kwale Counties in Kenya by the Kenya Medical Research Institute  Center for Respiratory Diseases Research and AMREF Health revealed that while the majority of leprosy patients are initiated on treatment promptly after diagnosis, there are significant delays in diagnosing leprosy for a substantial number of individuals , with some experiencing delays of more than a decade.

“Findings from this study showed that delay in leprosy diagnosis still persists in Kenya and should therefore be a priority of the leprosy programme. Addressing this requires a multi-faceted approach, involving coordinated efforts from governments, healthcare organizations, and communities,” said Barbara Miheso one of the study author.

The  study was carried out between July 2019 and March 2020. Leprosy patients diagnosed between January 2014 to December 2019 were identified retrospectively from health facility leprosy treatment registers. A total of 81 index patients out of the 118 traced were enrolled in the study.

There were more females at 49 (60 per cent) than males. Among the patients, 72(88.9 per cent) had multibacillary type of leprosy at time of diagnosis. The median age at the time of diagnosis was 53 years. The delay in diagnosis was measured in months and represented the time elapsed between the onset of leprosy symptoms and the actual diagnosis.

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