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Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 16 March 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies approximately how many lepers exist in Nigeria; how many are now receiving treatment and care in hospitals or similar institutions and as out-patients; and whether leprosy is compulsorily notifiable.

It is estimated that there are about 400,000 lepers in Nigeria. Thirty-seven thousand are receiving hospital and similar treatment; 33,000 are out-patients. Leprosy is compulsorily notifiable only in districts proclaimed under the law governing the isolation and detention of lepers.

Cannot steps be taken to prevent lepers from still wandering around Nigeria; and can my hon. Friend give any indication of any long-term policy regarding this terrible scourge?

Yes, Sir. In the last few years the number of persons undergoing treatment who were said to have leprosy has been quadrupled. As regards the long-term policy, the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund is providing £400,000 to this end. In addition, the Resident has power to detain anyone who is alleged to be a leper.

Will my hon. Friend answer the first part of the my supplementary question to the effect that many lepers are still wandering about Nigeria who are likely to spread the disease?

If these people are notified to the Resident he has power to order them to be detained, but the Government's policy is that it is better to proceed in this matter by voluntary methods rather than to use compulsion.

Arising out of the answers that have been given, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.