Cameroon is seeing a resurgence of leprosy, the bacterial infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage. Cameroon health authorities, on Sunday’s World Leprosy Day, said infections have jumped by about 50% since 2018. Leprosy patients say, just as in ancient times, they are shunned and neglected. Cameroon two decades ago announced that it had eliminated leprosy, but around 200 cases continued to be reported each year. In 2019, cases of the bacterial disease, which damages skin and nerves, increased to 270 and last year jumped to over 300. The Cameroon Baptist Convention’s Center for Hope helps care for leprosy patients in the northwestern town of Mbingo. The head of the center’s leprosy department Fomban Oliver says Cameroon was too quick to declare the disease eradicated. Speaking via a messaging application, he says Cameroon shouldn’t have closed some treatment centers and stopped education on the disease. The World Health Organization says in the Africa region case numbers have dropped by 42% since the year 2000 but about one million people have leprosy induced disabilities.
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