A total of 2,461 lepers were treated in Cambodia last year, though the true
number of cases could be as high as 10,000, says the National Leprosy Control
Of the reported cases, 1,644 were new patients while the rest
had been on treatment for some time, according to program director Dr T.Y
Abdulcoyaume, of the Ministry of Health.
Doctors in only a quarter of
Cambodia's communes had been trained to diagnose and treat leprosy under the
program. Cases in other communes were often likely to go unreported.
year's statistics also did not include remote Preah Vihear and Mondulkiri
The two provinces were thought to have one of the highest
leprosy rates in the country, along with others like Battambang, Pursat, Banteay
Meanchay, Siem Reap and Kompong Chhnang.
Leprosy was particularly
prevalent in mountainous areas and other places away from rivers, where lack of
water could mean people were less hygienic, helping the spread of the
Dr Abdulcoyaume said leprosy cases were likely to be 3-4 times
higher than reported. The World Health Organization estimated about 10,000 cases
Treating leprosy was relatively easy, he said. Depending on
which type of leprosy a person had, they received a course of two or three drugs
for six months or 24 months.
In most of the country, people could stay at
home to take the treatment.
In Kompong Cham province, however, people who
contracted leprosy tended to go to Troeung village
- site of Cambodia's only leper colony, reported on in the Post's last issue
- for treatment. Many stayed there for life because of the stigma of the
Meanwhile, a German/French anti-leprosy NGO, called CIOMAL, said
last week it was working to help the residents of Troeung.
medical coordinator, Dr Christoph Bendick, said the NGO began distributing rice
and fish to about 100 Troeung residents, those under treatment for leprosy,
three months ago.
The food, supplied by the World Food Program, was being
CIOMAL also provided leprosy medication to the
Ministry of Health's central medical store.
CIOMAL, along with the Don
Bosco NGO, had dug a well and provided water jars to Troeung families, and
offered other support on a case-by-case basis.
Handicap International had
also provided funding to produce special shoes for people disabled by