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World Leprosy Day

World Leprosy Day

NewDelhi: n India, Anti Leprosy Day is observed on 30th January every year, i.e., Mahatma Gandhiji’s martyrdom day, as Gandhiji was deeply committed to the cause of leprosy. To commemorate the anti-leprosy day, Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaigns (SLAC) are being organized since 2017 in order to reduce stigma and discrimination against persons suffering from leprosy. During SLACs, nationwide Gram Sabhas in villages across the country are organised in cooperation and coordination with allied sectors of health department. Appropriate messages from District Magistrates and appeals from Gram SabhaPramukhs (Heads of Village councils) to reduce discrimination against persons affected with leprosy are read out; pledge is taken by all Gram Sabha members to reduce the burden of disease in the community, and felicitation of persons affected with leprosy is done. Village community is encouraged to participate in these meetings, and school children are encouraged to spread awareness about the disease through plays, posters etc.

In the year 2021 too, the States were requested to organise SLACs (Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaigns) on 30th January. The focus of SLACs this year was to make the community aware about the importance of early detection of leprosy followed by complete treatment in order to prevent physical disabilities. SLACs were conducted this year starting from 30th January to 13th February 2021.

The following activities were performed by states/ UTs during SLACs:

  1. Appeals from Gram SabhaPramukh / Members of the Panchayati Raj Institutes / Medical officers were made to remove stigma and discrimination against persons affected with leprosy.
  2. Street plays were enacted by school children. Other cultural programs were held to disseminate educative messages about leprosy.
  3. Question Answer sessions were held involving Frequently Asked Questions.
  4. Banners and posters carrying important messages on leprosy were displayed at high visibility places to promote Information, Education and Communication (IEC) about the disease.
  5. Leprosy messages were also disseminated through Public Address Systems at some places.
  6. Three Short Films (TVCs) on leprosy, developed by Central Leprosy Division, were run through multimedia devices in meetings, and other relevant gatherings held during SLACs.
  7. A pledge was taken by community members not to discriminate against persons affected with leprosy.
  8. Disability Prevention and Medical Rehabilitation(DPMR) activities were conducted at many places, wherein leprosy affected persons were provided self-care kits, Microcellular rubber(MCR) footwear etc.
  9. Besides, in connection with the commemoration of world NTD (Neglected Tropical Diseases) Day, 2021, QutabMinar was illuminated as a part of global activity. Over 50 monuments across the world were illuminated on NTD day. Leprosy happens to be one of the NTDs in India. Banners related to leprosy were also displayed, along with other NTDs, at the illuminated QutabMinar.

Under National Leprosy Eradication Program (NLEP), India has achieved enormous success in leprosy control and elimination. Leprosy elimination, which means Prevalence Rate <1 case/ 10,000 population, was achieved at the National level in 2005. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is constantly taking steps to achieve elimination of Leprosy at the sub-national level, i.e. upto the district level. A consistent progress is being made in this regard as is evident from the table below:

Financial YearNo. of districts with prevalence less than 1
2016- 17554
2017 – 18572
2018 – 19588
2019-20610

Besides, other indicators related to leprosy are also showing consistent improvement as can be seen from the table below:

Financial YearPRChild Cases percentageG2D%G2D Per million
2014-150.699.044.614.48
2015-160.668.944.604.46
2016-170.668.693.823.89
2017-180.678.153.613.34
2018-190.627.673.052.65
2019-200.576.872.411.96

It’s important to mention that leprosy has a long incubation period, and, therefore, leprosy eradication becomes a long drawn process. However, all efforts are being made under NLEP to make India leprosy free.

All aids and appliances including MCR footwear, and DPMR services are provided free of cost to all needy persons affected by leprosy.

The treatment for uncomplicated leprosy patients is available up to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) level. The entire treatment for leprosy patients is provided free of cost across the board under NLEP at all Government Healthcare Facilities The complicated cases are treated in District Hospitals and Tertiary care hospitals free of cost. Medical services for leprosy are integrated with other general health services, as there should not be any discrimination attached against patients suffering from leprosy. DPMR services including Reconstructive Surgeries (RCS) are also provided free of cost under NLEP. One time welfare allowance of Rs 8000/- is also paid under NLEP to each person undergoing RCS.

Government of India has committed to achieve target of Leprosy Free India. In order to achieve this target, Government has launched several initiatives, such as; (i) Active Case Detection and Regular Surveillance, both in rural and urban areas in order to ensure detection of leprosy cases on regular basis and at early stage in order to prevent grade II disabilities (ii) Convergence of leprosy screening under RashtriyaBalSwasthyaKaryakram (RBSK) and Rashtriya Kishore SwasthyaKaryakram (RKSK) for screening of children (0-18 years) and under comprehensive Primary Health Care Package under Ayushman Bharat for screening of people above 30 years of age. In addition, various services are being provided under the programme for Disability Prevention and Medical Rehabilitation (DPMR) i.e., reaction management, provision of MCR footwear, Aids & Appliances, referral services for management of cases and Reconstructive surgery at District Hospitals and Medical Colleges/Central leprosy Institutes. Ultimately, it is the early case detection followed by complete treatment that will lead the country towards leprosy free status.

The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare), Sh. Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated this in a written reply in the Lok Sabha here today.

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