infectious disease that can disfigure patients over a long-term,
often leaving them with no alternative but to beg on the streets.
It causes light, red or dark patches on the skin. It also
affects nerves as a result of which sensations are reduced, which makes the
body part susceptible to injury. Damage to the nerves also results in paralysis
of the part supplied by the particular nerve. Paralysis of the small muscles of
the hands and feet may be followed by claw hands and claw feet deformities. Leprosy
can also affect the eye and nose.
With the availability of
medications that can completely cure the patient, cases of leprosy have come
down, with disfigurement becoming even rarer. Treatment is with multiple drugs
to reduce resistance and is usually administered over 6 to 12 months.
indicate that we are still some distance away from complete eradication of the
disease. Below are some of the figures from 2015:
- The worldwide prevalence of leprosy
is 0.2 cases per 10,000 people
- Worldwide, 2,11,973 new
cases were detected in 2015 (2.9 new cases per 1,00,000 people), which indicates
that transmission still occurs. However, there may be
still unreported or undiagnosed cases which could increase the number
- New cases are particularly located in the Asian countries
of India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka,
the African nations of DR Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania
and Brazil. These countries reported more than a 1,000 new cases in
- The most number of cases 1,27,326 were reported from
India, which indicates the need for a continuous effort to persevere in the
efforts to conquer the infection. Medications for leprosy are
provided free of cost in government health centers.
Repeated injuries to
parts that have lost sensation make patients with leprosy prone to
disabilities. Though the number of cases has come down significantly, they
still prevail. In 2015, 14,059 new cases
with visible deformities were reported worldwide out of which 271 cases were in
. The onset of disability indicates the delay in diagnosing the
cases. Early diagnosis is therefore necessary to avoid this preventable cause
of disabilities. The Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2020 from the World Health Organization
aims to reduce the number to zero among cases detected in children.
Some of the steps that
can be taken on World Leprosy Day 2017:
the Awareness About the Condition:
Patients with Leprosy
- Many people are not aware that
leprosy still exists, which could lead to a delay in diagnosis. People
should be taught to recognize symptoms early that can help in early diagnosis
and early institution of medications. A light, red or darker patch on the
skin with lack of sensation and loss of hair over it could indicate leprosy.
However, it must be noted that not all cases of light skin patches are due to
- A complete course of treatment results in a
complete cure of the condition. Some deformities can be addressed.
- Leprosy is like any other infection. In fact, it is among
the least infectious diseases, since most people are immune to it and most
patients are non-infectious. Even infectious patients become non-infectious
within a week of starting treatment, quite often following the first dose.
Therefore, it is not necessary to keep the patient isolated after beginning the
treatment. The person should be included in the society and not treated as
- Patients should receive adequate treatment. The importance
of completing treatment should be emphasized to bring about a complete
- People with disabilities should be provided adequate
vocational training and opportunities to earn a living
- Leprosy - (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs101/en/)