BENGALURU: Despite efforts by the government to eradicate leprosy in the state, it has met with little success as there has been hardly any drop in the number of patients afflicted by the disease. And the country has the dubious distinction of adding 60% new cases reported globally every year.
According to health department data, a total number of 2,892 leprosy cases were registered in the state from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, while a total number of 2,133 leprosy cases have been already registered from April 1, 2018, to December 31, 2018.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. It primarily affects the nerves of the extremities, the skin, the lining of the nose, and the upper respiratory tract.
The department of health in Karnataka has launched SLAC (Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign) and Leprosy Fortnight programme to eradicate leprosy. In addition, it will also search for more number of cases by means of a special activity programme in various villages and towns along with inspection carried out by Asha workers.
It is also observed that the state has a high rate of leprosy among children with 124 new cases. Muniraju, Joint Director of Leprosy Department said, “The numbers are bound to go high this year because of the active reach and door-to-door screening. There might be around 10-15% more compared to the previous year. Last year it was a voluntary registration where patients used to come and register themselves.”
However, the global leprosy situation has changed drastically over the last four decades after the introduction of multidrug therapy in 1982, said Dr Rashmi Ravindra, Consultant, Dermatologist & Cosmetologist at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals. “With multidrug therapy, the prevalence has reduced from 57.8/10,000 to less than 1/10,000. With the introduction of Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) in the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP), new cases continue to rise indicating continued transmission," she added.
She also pointed out that India continues to account for 60% of new cases reported globally each year. “This could be because leprosy is endemic to some regions where there is an ongoing transmission. In addition, there might be many hidden cases. Disability is also on the rise due to the delay in diagnosis. Early case detection and adequate treatment and follow up is the key to reducing the leprosy burden in the society,” Dr Rashmi said.
Muniraju, however, said with the introduction of door-to-door identification drives it is now easier to fine hidden cases and assured the numbers would come down. “With LCDC, a unique initiative under National Leprosy Control Programme (NLEP), within two years we will completely eradicate the disease,” he said....