•County senior specialist on Leprosy disease Samuel Kimaru, said most leprosy patients seek assistance from village medicine men when first symptoms develop thinking is witchcraft.
•The doctor said as per the preliminary investigation most leprosy patients keep off from hospitals due to stigmatization and lack of awareness.
Kwale county health department has asked people suffering from leprosy and elephantiasis disease to seek proper medication in hospitals.
The department has warned them against rushing to witch doctors for treatment.
The last county research on leprosy last year revealed that 29 new people were infected by the disease with the region having over 200 people living with leprosy mainly found at Tumbe in Msambweni sub-county.
According to the county senior specialist on Leprosy disease Samuel Kimaru, most patients go to village medicine men when first symptoms of leprosy develop thinking is witchcraft.
Kimaru said the trend has affected the fight against the neglected tropical diseases saying majority go for diagnosis when it is already late.
“It is very challenging to control it because once the victims have the first signs instead of coming to us they go for suburb herbalists and come when the disease has already spread,” Kimaru said.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae while elephantiasis by filariasis worms spread to a human through a bite from an infected mosquito.
The disease is curable and can be treated easily during its initial stage.
It can be transmitted through mouth and nose droplets or close contact with untreated persons.
Kimaru said if the patients start medication early it can prevent severe cases of body damage.
The doctor said as per the preliminary investigation most leprosy patients keep off from hospitals due to stigmatization and lack of awareness.
He said people normally alienate individuals suffering from most chronic diseases like leprosy and elephantiasis.
“There is a lot of stigma making these people hide in homes, second many don’t know how this disease starts,” he said.
The doctor said people have forgotten that such ailments exist and are treatable.
County Public Health officer Saidi Mdune said Msambweni and Lunga-Lunga sub-counties are leading in elephantiasis and hydrocele diseases.
He cautioned the residents not to be conned by witchdoctors saying the only place they can get treatment services is in the health facilities.
Mdune dismissed the claims that the two health conditions were caused by witchcraft and drinking of plenty of coconut water.
Unlike leprosy, elephantiasis has no specific cure only maintained through surgeries, treatment of the wound to prevent further swelling and pain, according to Mdune.
He asked the locals to take advantage of the medicine supplied by the county through recognized public health workers to prevent elephantiasis.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris