On January 30, 2018, as the world observed the Leprosy Eradication Day, Odisha had to face some tough questions.
The Hansen’s disease, which was declared to be eradicated in 2006-07, is now back in the eastern Indian state with a high prevalence rate (PR).
As per the data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Odisha’s leprosy PR is third highest in the country after Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Chhattisgarh.
It has risen from 1.24 per 10,000 population in 2014 to 1.39 per 10 thousand population in 2018.
WHO recommends to limit leprosy PR within one per ten thousand population.
However, apart from Odisha, four more states and UTs are yet to achieve National Health Policy 2002 leprosy PR target of below one case per 10,000 population by 2005.
What factors are responsible for leprosy?
Some of the probable factors responsible for leprosy cases are:
- High population density
- Inadequate nutrition
- Poor sanitation
- Weak immunity
- Other illnesses
- Lack of awareness
- Lack of healthcare facilities and medical professionals for existing patients
How leprosy can be eradicated?
It can be eradicated by:
- Treating patients with multi-drug therapy
- Proper nutrition and care
- Creating awareness
- Eliminating stigma and myths associated with it
- Ensuring good hygienic practices
- Providing adequate healthcare facilities
- Employing experienced and dedicated medical professionals
Instead of stigmatizing and discriminating against people with leprosy, they must be treated with love and care so that they recover at a faster rate and have low chance of relapse.
Some notable people who dedicated their lives to eradicate leprosy:
Mother Teresa: She dedicated 50 years of her life serving thousands of leprosy patients in India. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and requested the ceremonial banquet’s cost of $192,000 be given to the poor in India.
Baba Amte: Founded three ashrams for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients. In 1949, he founded a leprosy hospital in Anandvan under a tree.
Father Damien: He dedicated 11 years of his life serving leprosy patients and continued his work even after contracting the disease. His works inspired Mahatma Gandhi.
Damodar Ganesh Bapat: He improved the lives of almost 26,000 leprosy patients. He was awarded Devi Ahilyabat National Award in 2006 and Padma Shri in 2008.
Did you know veteran Indian actress Dimple Kapadia was diagnosed with leprosy just a few months ahead of the shoot of her debut movie Bobby? In 2017, she shocked her fans by disclosing her tryst with the disease as well as her miraculous recovery.
Like her, there are many others who were afflicted with the disease and defeated it completely. If they could do it, so can anyone.
The image can be downloaded here.