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Leprosy Resurfaced

  • 23 Aug 2019
  • 2 min read

The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that India hosts 66% of all leprosy patients in the world.

  • India officially eliminated leprosy in 2005, reducing its prevalence rate to 0.72 per 10,000 people at national level.
    • According to the WHO, ‘elimination’ implies a prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000.
  • In 2016-17, at least 1,35,485 cases of leprosy were detected in the country.
  • As of March 2017, about 53 districts in 11 states and Union territories reported a prevalence rate higher than 2/10,000 population.
    • These states were Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, D&N Haveli, Lakshadweep and Delhi.

Reasons for Recurrence

  • New Detections: Post 2005, many new cases started getting reported. New detections occurred due to major changes in the National Leprosy Elimination Programme (NLEP) and the Global Leprosy Programme.
    • Efforts made under these programmes led to the discovery of child leprosy, apart from other new cases.
  • Reduced Efforts: The declaration of elimination diluted efforts of health workers, who were helping in identifying cases in rural areas. As a result, efforts to fight against the disease at different levels were also reduced to a great extent.

Way Forward

  • The strengthening of the public health system at the ground level is necessary to handle this issue in areas where a large number of cases are being reported.
  • India needs a clear strategy and implementation plan to address the problem and achieve eradication of leprosy.

Source: Mint

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