The Leprosy Mission Nigeria, TLMN, says it has stepped up measure on ending the disease by 2035, as it inaugurated its new country office building in Abuja on Wednesday.
The National Director, TLMN, Dr Sudnay Udo, said at the inauguration ceremony that “the expansion of the mission goes beyond a bigger space to an innovative space where strategies will be developed to ending leprosy.”
According to him, TLMN’s new office building not only celebrates the physical manifestation of growth and progress but a significant milestone of a mission striving for zero transmission to leprosy, zero disabilities and zero discrimination.
“It is not about the building, it is not about the bricks and walls, it is about a space that is conducive for us to think, plan, innovate, we want to actually end leprosy in our life time.
“We want to control Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), we want to eradicate NTDs, we are not playing.
“TLM as a global entity will be 150 years next year and we have told ourselves that 150 years, it is time to end this thing.
“As we speak, we are putting together strategy for zero transmission of leprosy by 2035. That is our next major goal.
“We have done that as a health community for small pox, polio has already been squashed to the ground. Leprosy is the end as far as I am concerned. By 2035 it will be thrown to the dustbin of history,’’ Udo said.
Udo lauded TLM England and Wales for their support, the governments of Nigeria, Australia and Sweden, and other partners.
Mr Peter Waddup, Country Leader, TLM England and Wales said that TLM England and Wales was honored to be part of the journey to ending Leprosy in Nigeria.
Waddup expressed optimism that the new office building would enhance the capacity of TLM Nigeria, as he advised on early detection and treatment.
“We believe that eradicating leprosy in our lifetime is possible and we are just so thrilled to be part of the Leprosy Mission family and working in partnership with the leprosy mission Nigeria.
“And now that they have this new facility, we believe that they can make great strides to the goal of ending leprosy
“I will say that everyone needs to understand that leprosy is curable and very, very quickly.
“If you find the early signs of fair patch of skin then go to a doctor, come to the representatives of Leprosy Mission in Nigeria, they will give you the pills. It is when you hide in the way that it becomes an issue,” Waddup said.
Prof. James Ayatse, Tor Tiv and President, Association of Christian Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, said that the building would serve as a strategic hub that would enable TLMN to achieve its goals.
Ayatse also shed more light on leprosy, waring against the myths surrounding the disease, urging everyone to be agents of ending the disease, avoid discrimination against people with the disease, and show them love.
“This building will serve as a strategic hub, enabling TLM Nigeria to expand its reach, foster greater collaboration with stakeholder at all levels, enhance its research capabilities.
“And sustain its interventions towards transforming the lives of people and community affected by leprosy.
“Leprosy is treatable, curable, preventable and its treatment is free. We must keep challenging the deep-rooted myths and stereotypes surrounding the disease. It is not contagious, it is not hereditary and it is not a curse.
“We must eradicate the stigma and prejudice associated with leprosy. People associated with the disease are like you and me, deserving of acceptance and support.
“Let us build a society where no one suffers in silence and stigma becomes a thing of the past,” Ayatse said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Australian High Commissioner of Nigeria Leann Johnston, Swedish Deputy Head of Mission to Nigeria, Joran Bjallerstedt congratulated TLMN on the giant stride, pledging the continuous support of their governments.