World Leprosy Day, January 30!

Fahmina Hussain for BeyondHeadlines

World Leprosy Day is observed internationally on 30th January. The main purpose of this festival is to increase public awareness of Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. This particular day was actually chosen to commemorate the death of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, who understood the importance of this disease.

World Leprosy Day creates awareness that leprosy is in fact major problem. On the last Sunday of January, thousands of people across the globe have stopped to remember those who suffer the horrendous effects of leprosy. The disease, till date, remains an ignored problem that gets detected at later stages because of lack of awareness of its early symptoms. This day is meant that Leprosy holds the stigma that it is like HIV/AIDS. That’s why World Leprosy Day is observed to educate people and remove or weaken the stigma.

Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases in recorded history. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the first known written reference to leprosy is from 600 B.C. The first case has found in one of the soldiers in Alexander army in Japan 326 BC. Leprosy is common in many countries. These countries – Republic of the Congo, Guinea and the Central African Republic, etc. According to the World Health Organization, about 5 million new cases came to light in 2003.

Leprosy is a disease that has been known since biblical times. Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and legs. The disease has been around since ancient times, often surrounded by terrifying, negative stigmas and tales of leprosy patients being shunned as outcasts. Leprosy is a chronic disease. Basically it’s the same class of TB and TB spreads like bacteria. Long-term bacterial infection the patient has to live with it.

  • Year 1955 the government launched a “National Leprosy Control Programme”.
  • Year 1983, in the National Leprosy Elimination Programme as changed.
  • World Bank assisted National Leprosy Elimination Project Phase expanding its 1993-94 September 2000 was up.
  • The National Leprosy Control Programme Year 1955 has already been run. Year 1983 the program was renamed as National Leprosy Eradication Programme.
  • Antileprotic drug is provided free of charge to all States and Union Territories.
  • National Leprosy Eradication Programmed planning, implementation and monitoring of the 27 major states have been constituted leprosy elimination.
  • Year 1998 and 2003 at the national level to create awareness about leprosy and multidrug therapy for leprosy elimination campaign has been launched to identify specific patients. The campaign is 9.3 million leprosy patients have been diagnosed and treated with multidrug therapy system.

Modified Leprosy Elimination Campaign year 2003-04 under the eight states -Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh 48,500new patients diagnosed and provided therapy.

According to the statewide campaign report, 2051 new cases of leprosy in the nine months to come. Health Department anticipates that the patient can hide many of the old thinking. World Leprosy Eradication Day on January 30 at the health department will launch a statewide campaign. This survey will be done in all districts of Delhi.

About 844 new cases in Delhi are reported while 1,207 patients are from other states. Around five per cent of new patients are children. Currently, 2,827 leprosy patients are registered in Delhi. In 2012, there were 1,357 patients in Delhi.

In addition to the 12,305 child cases detected during the past year, 16 States and Union Territories have also shown an increase in the number of cases. According to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the eve of the Anti-Leprosy Day, a total of 0.83 lakh cases are on record giving a prevalence rate of (PR) of 0.68 per 10,000 population though only 530 districts out of the 640 have achieved the elimination level.

Leprosy has always been linked with stigma. This is due to leprosy often causing severe disfigurement and disability, lack of knowledge about the disease. Education and media campaigns help to correct false beliefs and raise awareness of new advances. Physical and socio-economic rehabilitation helps to restore self-esteem and status in the community and assists patients to find employment. Spread the demystifying messages and its interpretations, mainly regarding nature of disease, whether hereditary, whether leprosy cases are touchable, role of immunity in occurrence of leprosy, what is burnt out case and so on.

It is imperative to break the barrier between persons affected by leprosy and the rest of the society, by appealing to peoples’ emotions and their ability to empathies with those they feared and shunned.

Many people suffering from the disease have economical problems. World Leprosy Day focuses on poverty eradication especially on people living with leprosy. World Leprosy Day is also meant to raise awareness on the need of breaking the poverty cycle all over the world.

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