World Leprosy Day is held annually on the last Sunday of January. It presents an opportunity for intensified efforts and renewed dedication to the earliest possible elimination/eradication
of the devastating disease. It focuses on a target of zero cases of children with leprosy-related disabilities. Early detection is the primary target for achieving this aim, as well as improving initiatives.World Leprosy Day
, held every year on the last Sunday of January, aims to raise public awareness of leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, a highly infectious infection caused by Mycobacterium leprae bacteria. In India, to commemorate the death of Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated on this day in 1948, it is observed every year on 30 January.
India, which has the highest disease burden, has recorded a declining number of new cases over the past two years, from almost 15,000 cases (135,485 in 2016 to 120,334 in 2017-2018) and a decline in new paediatric cases to less than 10,000 (9227 in 2018) from more than 10,000 cases (10,287 in 2017).
What is leprosy?
Leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, is a chronic infectious disease caused by bacillus (M. laprae). The signs of the disease normally arise after an average of five years after a long period of infection, like M. Leprae proliferates very slowly. The skin, peripheral nerves, upper respiratory tract mucosa, and eyes are primarily affected by the disease.
How does leprosy spread?
The only known cause of bacterial transmission is untreated leprosy-affected individuals. From the respiratory tract of the infected person it spreads into the atmosphere, through the respiratory system, it reaches the body of the other person in close contact of the infected person and it then migrates into the nerves and skin.
What are the signs and symptoms of leprosy?
Leprosy is confirmed if a person exhibits the following signs and symptoms:
There may be light patches on the skin of dark-skinned people, while pale-skinned people have darker or reddish patches. Loss or decrease in skin patches
and numbness in the side or legs or tingling of hand, foot or eyelid weakness and pain in the nerves.
What should be done if a person gets the symptoms of leprosy?
If you have signs and symptoms of leprosy, please contact your local ASHA or ANM office or visit the nearest dispensary. At all government dispensaries in India, care for leprosy is available free of charge.
What is National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP)?
The Government of India initiated the National Leprosy Prevention Programme in 1955. The program was transformed into the National Leprosy Eradication Program (NLEP) in 1983, following the implementation of Multi Drug Therapy in 1982, with the goal of achieving the country’s eradication of the disease.
Why was 30th January chosen for celebrating World Leprosy Day?
The French humanitarian Raoul Follereau chose this day as a tribute to the life of Gandhi, who had lifelong compassion for people who were afflicted by leprosy.
January 30, 2019, is celebrated as World Day for the Eradication of Leprosy, which highlights the need to eradicate the disease. The prejudice and stigma that people face from society every day is also brought to light.
The World Leprosy Day theme is “End discrimination, stigma, and prejudice.” It is said that it is thought that most people affected by leprosy suffer some sort of stigma and prejudice and up to half of them will experience mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
World Leprosy Day aims to end the stigma and prejudice against leprosy-affected persons. The global event also addresses the goal of zero cases of childhood leprosy-related disabilities. India is home to more than half of these, with over two lakh new cases of leprosy detected worldwide each year.
On this day, public and educational outreach programs are organized by organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to give people knowledge on how to prevent the spread of the disease. Doctors and other health practitioners spend time explaining to the public about how the symptoms of leprosy should be understood.
Rallies and marathons are also organized by groups to raise funds for research and recovery and rehabilitate those affected by the disease. In addition, conferences and workshops are held around the world to discuss the issues facing patients with leprosy and to find ways to reduce their social stigma.
People with leprosy have been stigmatized and regarded as being at the very edges of society for thousands of years. The goal of World Leprosy Day is to change this mentality and raise public consciousness of the fact that it is now easy to prevent and cure leprosy.
It is also important to fight against the racism and bigotry associated with it. Every nation in the world has leprosy-affected people. Yet they stop going to hospitals for treatment due to society’s rejection. It should be universally highlighted that “Leprosy is not a past disease.” It’s an ongoing issue.’
Leprosy is an infectious disease of the skin and nerves that can produce crippling disabilities. It also sometimes leads, as stated by the WHO, to clinical depression. This ailment can be healed by early diagnosis and treatment in better conditions.
Takshila Learning celebrates the day by standing by the people affected by this disease and helps everyone realise that it can be surely eradicated by true efforts. Takshila Learning is always in support of the initiatives taken by different organisations who work for Leprosy eradication.
Be human and support people with leprosy with Takshila Learning.
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