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- Context (PIB): The Minister of Health and Family Welfare addressed National Anti-Leprosy Day.
- Also known as Hansen’s disease, it is a chronic infectious disease caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium Leprae.
- Transmission: Through contact with the infected person, transmission by the respiratory route, insects etc.
- It is not highly contagious. More than 85% infected population are non-infectious, and more than 99% population has natural immunity to leprosy.
- Incubation period: Usually takes about 3-5 years for symptoms to appear.
- Symptoms: Nerve damage in arms, legs, and skin; loss of sensation in the body; weakness of muscles; and poor eyesight.
- Treatment: It can be cured by Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT). Currently, the treatment regime consists of Dapsone, Rifampicin, and Clofazimine.
- Leprosy is a leading cause of permanent physical disability and has been classified as one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD).
|World Anti-Leprosy Day is observed internationally on the last Sunday of January to commemorate the death of Gandhiji.
Prevalence of Leprosy
- Despite WHO announcing it as an ‘eliminated’ global health problem, over 2 lakh people are diagnosed with leprosy each year. Over half of these cases are detected in India.
Reasons for the rise in cases of Leprosy
- Social stigma associated with Leprosy acts as a hinderance to self-reporting and early treatment.
- Lack of awareness among patients and people at large on the causes and cure of Leprosy.
- Ineffective disease surveillance, early diagnosis and detection.
- Poor condition of public health services, driving up the cost of treatment.
GoI Initiatives for Eradication of Leprosy
National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP)
- It is a centrally sponsored scheme under the National Health Mission.
- Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- Vision: Leprosy-free India.
- Implementation: While the strategies and plans are formulated centrally, they are implemented by the States/UTs.
Nikusth 2.0 Portal
- It is an integrated portal for leprosy case management under the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP).
- It will aid in efficient data recording, analyzing and reporting of the data in the form of indicators and a real-time dashboard at centre, state, and district levels.
Global Initiatives for Eradication of Leprosy
- WHO’s Global Leprosy Strategy 2021–2030 aims to reinvigorate leprosy control efforts and avert disabilities, especially among children.
- UN General Assembly Resolution on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons affected by Leprosy, 2010: It calls on governments to modify or abolish existing laws that discriminate against persons affected by Leprosy and their family members.
- UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2007 aims to promote full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.