INTRODUCTION: Following the recommendation of the Global Leprosy Strategy, Ethiopia targeted to reduce the incidence of new leprosy cases, and the proportion with severe disability (grade 2) from 13.6% in 2016 to < 1% in 2020. This study assessed the clinical profile of new leprosy cases and the sequelae of previously treated ones 20 years after leprosy was eliminated as a public health problem in the country.
METHODOLOGY: Hospital based cross sectional study was conducted by reviewing the medical records of all leprosy patients seen at the dermatology clinic of Boru Meda Hospital from August to December 2018.The data were captured using a standard data collection form.
RESULTS: Over the study period, 57 (27.4%) new cases and 151 (72.6%) previously treated cases were seen.The median age was 44 years (interquartile range 32-57). Among the newly diagnosed cases, two were under the age of 15 years , 51 (89.5%) were multibacillary and 34 (59.6%) had grade 2 disability. This included visual impairment in 10 (17.5%) and neurological complications in 44 (77.2%). Of the 151 previously treated cases, 104 (68.9%) presented with disabilities, including 97 (64.2%) with grade 2. Amongst previously treated cases, 130 (86.1%) had neurological complications. In addition, 53 (35.1%) had vision impairment.
CONCLUSIONS: This study showed evidence of ongoing leprosy transmission and delayed diagnosis in the country. This calls for operational research to determine the underlying reasons and provide ways forward. At the same time, the high burden of disabilities in previously treated cases should be addressed.