LEPROSY IN INDIA
India accounts for 57.9% of all new cases of leprosy reported annually around the world, with over 120,334 new cases in the year 2016-17, according to the Na onal Leprosy Eradica on Programme (NLEP). This means that one person is diagnosed with leprosy roughly every four minutes in India, which is among 22 na ons considered to have a ‘high burden’ for leprosy, according to the World Health Organiza on (WHO).
But there is a wide public perception in India that leprosy is no longer a problem. In the public space, elimination has been confused with eradication. Elimination implies a prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000 (0.01 percent), whereas eradication means reaching zero — no infections with no possibility of further transmission. Elimination isn’t eradication, and whilst there is a lower percentage of affected individuals, this number is still enormous in absolute terms in a vast country like India.
Leprosy: An International Cycle
Leprosy is a disease which can affect anyone, but like all infections, people from socio-economically disadvantaged sections of the community are at a much higher risk, due to crowded living conditions and poor nutrition. This results in a vicious cycle of disease, disability, exclusion and poverty because of the stigma that still prevails in the community.
These factors are perpetuated, leading to children of leprosy affected parents often being deprived of education and the normal care which is taken for granted in other families. This hampers the opportunities for development and condemns them to a life of poverty and unfulfilled potential.
Every year the staff and students at Udayan conduct an Annual Leprosy Awareness Drive to educate people about the disease and tackle the stigma which is so prevalent in India. Held on World Leprosy Day the Awareness Drive includes:
1) Talks in Schools and Clubs
2) A procession headed by a vehicle which is plastered with posters about the disease through the whole of Barrackpore from which slogans like "Leprosy is Curable" are spoken over a microphone from the vehicle.
The children of Udayan (except the very little ones) along with students of the local schools follow on.
3) Lectures over loudspeakers from a stall outside the Barrackpore Railway Station and the handing out of special leaflets sharing the facts about leprosy.
New Cases Each Year
India accounts for 57.9% of all new cases of leprosy reported annually around the world, with over 120,334 new cases in the year 2016-17, according to the Na onal Leprosy Eradica on Programme (NLEP).
Largest Leprosy Population
Although India achieved elimination of leprosy as a public health problem in 2005, it has the largest number of leprosy patients in the world and pockets of high endemicity report thousands of new cases every year.
Leprosy: West Bengal
There are about 19 Leprosy prone districts in West Bengal of which 9 contribute about 70% of the Leprosy population in West Bengal.