India is the abode of 60 % of world's leprosy affected people. Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and legs.
According to the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP), a centrally sponsored scheme of the Health Ministry, 1.25 lakh new cases were detected in 2014-15 across the country.
The disease, a silent killer, is spreading its roots in the country mainly because of the stigma and fear attached to it.
In the 21st century when the disease is completely curable with multi-drug therapy, Leprosy is considered as the punishment for past-birth sins, immoral sexual behavior or divine retribution in many parts of the country.
Such believes create the image of the patient as someone who is mentally and sexually impure, resulting in no reporting of disease. However, the government of India has vowed to bring out the hidden cases, which are expected to be double of the reported ones.
Today, January 30th marks the World Anti-leprosy Day. Its time we should know about the deadly disease.
1. What is Leprosy?
A contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities. Leprosy is now mainly confined to tropical Africa and Asia.
2. Why it happens?
Leprosy is caused by a slow-growing type of bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae). Leprosy is also known as Hansen's disease, after the scientist who discovered M. leprae in 1873.
3. Symptoms of Leprosy
The main symptom of leprosy is disfiguring skin sores, lumps, or bumps that do not go away after several weeks or months. The skin sores are pale-colored.
4. Affects of Leprosy
Leprosy mainly affects the skin and the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, called the peripheral nerves. It may also strike the eyes and the thin tissue lining the inside of the nose. The Nerve damage can lead to loss of feeling in the arms and legs and muscle weakness.
The drugs used in WHO-MDT are a combination of rifampicin, clofazimine and dapsone for MB leprosy patients and rifampicin and dapsone for PB leprosy patients. Among these rifampicin is the most important anti-leprosy drug and therefore is included in the treatment of both types of leprosy.
Today, with number of cases increasing every year, there is a persistent demand to give anti-leprosy campaign a push like Polio eradication campaign.