HCM City aims to be free of leprosy within five years hinh anh 1A doctor takes care for a leprosy patient (Source: VNA)

With a prevalence rate of 0.2 per 100,000 as of June end, HCM City has eliminated leprosy, the Ministry of Health has certified.

The detection rate reduced from 3.21 per 100,000 in 2000 to 0.1 per 100.000 this year, according to a report by the city Hospital of Dermato-Venerelogy, which treats patients with leprosy in the city and southern provinces.

In the first six months there were just nine new cases. Since 2013 no child has been diagnosed with the disease.

The rate of second degree disability, or severe loss of work capacity, among new patients also dropped to 11.11 percent in the first six months from 18.8 percent in 2000.

Although the number of new cases has reduced, the number with disabilities caused by the disease remains high, with most people aged below 50, Dr Vu Hong Thai, the hospital head, said.

It is very important to strengthen rehabilitation for these people, and disability prevention for patients with the disease should be given priority, he said.

The hospital treated 148 leprosy patients with disabilities from the city and the southern provinces in the first six months.

In the city, hospital technicians and district health officials visit the houses of such patients to provide guidance on caring for themselves and rehabilitation.

The hospital also provides free shoes to patients with disabilities in legs.

But Thai cautioned that the fight against leprosy should not be stopped in the city despite the elimination of the disease and should continue.

The city aims to be free of the disease by 2020, he said.

"With many industrial parks attracting large numbers of immigrants, the city has difficulty detecting new cases. Communication about the disease should be enhanced, especially in areas with many immigrants."

In the country, 18 provinces including Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau are recognised as having eliminated leprosy.-VNA