Leprosy victims in Ebonyi have decried the increasing rate of stigmatisation they faced from friends and relatives, stressing that the development was affecting their re-integration into the society, after treatment.
The affected victims, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria at the St. Patrick’s Tuberculosis and Leprosy Colony, Mile 4 Abakaliki, called on relevant authorities to address the anomaly, adding that the disdain treatment had also compounded their sorrow.
Chimma Eze, 80, from Ishieke Community of Ebonyi Local Government Area, LGA, said she had been afflicted with the disease for over 15 years with no one to cater for her.
“A Good Samaritan brought me to this colony due to my terrible condition; he has been treating me free, providing for my feeding and taking adequate care of me.
“I have ruled out the possibility of returning to my home because my family members have deserted me.
“I urge government to provide skills acquisition centres and other empowerment interventions for leprosy patients to enable us survive after being discharged,” she said.
Patient Nwizi, 26, a nursing mother from Ukpachacha Community of Izzi Local Government Area, noted that her husband abandoned her with a seven-month old baby, due to her condition.
“I started experiencing symptoms of the disease in 2014 and was brought to the colony where I was treated and subsequently discharged.
“The sickness resurfaced in February, but my husband, parents, siblings, friends among other relatives, abandoned me since then,” she said.
She said that leprosy patients depended on the goodwill of kind-hearted individuals and groups to survive, noting that religious bodies had also been most supportive.
“I seek urgent help from government, well-meaning individuals and groups, because my child’s health is being affected due to my inability to breastfeed him presently,” she said.
An official of the colony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, commended the patients for behaving positively and religiously, despite their predicament.
“We call for more assistance from relevant authorities because taking care of the patients in these austere times is tasking, coupled with the challenge of sustaining the centre,” he said.