As new cases rise, leprosy in spotlight

  1. According to National Leprosy Eradication Programme, new leprosy cases in India has risen between 2013-14 and 2017-18. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra has recorded the maximum prevalence of the disease.
  2. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease is a chronic neuro-muscular disorder. It is caused by several strains of Mycobacterium leprae. It has a long incubation period which makes detection difficult. Leprosy can be cured with Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT).
  3. The causes for rise in number of leprosy cases in some areas of India are a) high population density, b) poor sanitation, c) inadequate access to nutrition and d) increased level of awareness and consequent reporting of cases.
  4. India launched National Leprosy Eradication Programme in 1983 to eliminate leprosy through early detection, effective treatment and increased awareness.
  5. In 2005, India achieved the goal of elimination of leprosy as a public health problem, defined as less than 1 case per 10,000 population.
  6. In January 2019, Lok Sabha has passed the Personal Laws (Amendment Bill), 2018, which seeks removal of leprosy as a ground for divorce.
  7. The WHO has launched global leprosy strategy 2016-20. It aims at a) zero children with leprosy-affected disabilities by 2020 and b) reduction of new patients diagnosed with leprosy-related deformities to >1 per million population