Northern Uganda Leprosy Victims Struggle To Survive

sick geneva;”>The leprosy victims in Alele and Langlo village in Alero Sub County, find Nwoya district complain that there is no proper treatment availed to them in the entire of Northern region

They claim that Alele was gazetted by the British Government as a leprosy treatment site in 1952 during the British rule and many of them had been brought from all corners of Northern Uganda to settle there.

“However, after the British rule, many of the governments that came after did not value Alele to give treatment to the leprosy victims and addressing their various needs as vulnerable people,” said the victims.

Those who had travelled from far, Adele became their home up to now.

It is quite difficult now to trace back their home villages because many of them were brought at the age of 12 from neighboring districts like Kitgum, Lira and Gulu among others.


Nwoya was in 2010 separated from Gulu district.

Speaking to some of the victims, Orach Yakobo, is one of the pioneers of Alele village. He developed signs and symptoms of the disease in the early 1940s and had to leave school.

“I developed leprosy signs and symptoms in 1944 from Nyapeya College, the current Paida District in West Nile and had to leave the school to get treatment. When I went back home in Kitgum, the treatment received there was more traditional gambling medicine and it made no change,” he said.

Some of the leprosy victims at alele

“I later went to a Catholic mission that suggested I should be transferred to Opwari in Southern Sudan, but as I prepared to go, the Church Missionary Society led by Dr. Brown opened up a leprosy treatment center and I was relocated here in Alele in 1952 where they constructed us uniport houses,” Yakobo told Chimpreports.

Yakobo who could not remember the exact number of people brought to Adele village by that time insisted that they were many patients.

“I cannot remember exactly how many we were, but many of the victims have died and the lucky ones like us gave birth to healthy children,” he said with a smile on his face.

Maggi Adong, also a victim of leprosy lamented of how she has to request children around the village to carry her on a bicycle to Langol Health center, which is about five kilometers.

“I would like to call upon the government to see a way of helping us and ease on access to medical services. Most of us cannot dig so we lack food staff, but if the government availed us with the necessary needs like food, clothes, medical care, we would be happy,” added Adong.

However, Okello Yonna attacked the government for neglecting them. According to him, most of them cannot relocate their homes, don’t have any children to help them and sleep in houses that leak.

“We live mostly because of the help received from the community but we have never had the government coming out with a plan to help rehabilitate this place. All we know about life is suffering,” he complained.

Yonna Orach and other women who are also victims in the area

When Chimpreports contacted Dr Acen Jane, Nwoya District Health Officer about the situation, she said since the leprosy sufferers are not many in the district, they use focal persons to take treatment to them just by their doors.

“They are not many now, so as concerned personnel of Nwoya district, we access them medical services directly, contrary to what the leprosy victims says.

But the ‘Rwot-kweri’ meaning the Local councilor of the village, James Okello said the Leprosy victims are facing the problem of movement to get treatment.

He noted that however, many of them had returned to their native land but others have become resident of the area and very vulnerable.

Leprosy is a chronic granulomatous disease caused by a mycobacterium leprae that principally affects skin and peripheral nerves.

Although leprosy is not generally spread by means of direct contact through intact skin, close contacts are most vulnerable.

Correct diagnosis and proper treatment of pain is an important public health concern, but in this community, leprosy victims don’t have accessible to health services and the only health unit available is more than five kilometers away.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health report indicates that Uganda has achieved the target of eliminating Leprosy as a public health problem but there is limited medical attention to the a few affected.

In 2009, the case detection rate was 1.2 percent thus 2/3 of case came from 13 out of 112 districts in Uganda.

The number and proportion of Multi-Bacillary (MB) Leprosy cases has stagnated at 79.2 percent respectively the child proportion of new leprosy cases remained at about 8 percent and the male to female ratio was1:1.

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