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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.
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