World Leprosy Day 2020 was observed on 26th January, on the last Sunday of January month. Towards the end of 2016, leprosy had affected almost 173358 people globally. Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy impacted numerous countries, mainly Brazil, Indonesia, and India.
What most people don’t realize is, leprosy is curable, only if caught in early stages.
What is Leprosy?
It is a chronic infectious disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium Leprae (M.Leprae). Once affected with leprosy, its symptoms begin to appear quite later, i.e., about 5 years, as M.Leprae takes time to multiply and show effects. It majorly affects the skin, eyes, peripheral nerves, and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract.
The symptoms of Leprosy
It is first detected in the form of patches on the skin. Usually, dark-skinned people get light patches, or pale-skinned people get dark or reddish patches. The patches lose any kind of sensation in them after a while. Other symptoms include
- A feeling of numbness or uncertain tingling in hands or feet.
- Weakness in eyelids as well as hands and feet.
- Nervous pain.
- Lumps or swelling in the earlobes or the face.
- Pains or burns on hands and feet, without any sensation of pain.
How does it spread?
The only source of transmission of M. Leprae bacteria is a leprosy-affected person.
In an infected person, the major outlet of the bacteria from his/her body is the respiratory tract, especially the nose. The disease spreads when the bacteria enters another body through the nose or mouth if it is in close vicinity to an infected person. Once it enters the body, it makes its way into the nerves and skin.
Now we know why, if the disease is not detected in the early stages, it may cause permanent damage to the nerves.
How to handle a leprosy-suspected case?
Once you suspect any person of leprosy, make sure you contact an ASHA or ANM personnel at the earliest or visit a nearby dispensary. Its treatment is free at all government hospitals.
MDT:- An essential remedy
Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) is a combination of three drugs, namely Dapsone, Rifampicin, and Clofazimine; as leprosy cannot be cured with a single antileprosy drug. MDT should be delivered into a leprosy-patient for a period of six months to one year and is available free of charge in most stores.
National Leprosy Eradication Program (NLEP)
NLEP was launched by the Govt. in 1983 after MDT was introduced into the program in 1982. Prior to that, it was termed as the National Leprosy Control Program, which was launched way back in 1955.
By 2005, the elimination of leprosy nationwide was attained, although 57% of the affected were from India. By March 2017, 554 districts (81.23%) out of 682 districts were cleared of Leprosy. Despite the fact that we are celebrating World Leprosy Day 2020 for leprosy eradication, there are signs of leprosy still looming over India.
A verdict on Leprosy
The best way to get rid of leprosy is early detection and efficient treatment. But there are numerous myths amongst the general public that pose a hindrance to efficient therapy. One should know that
- It is not hereditary.
- It doesn’t spread through casual touches, such as shaking hands, playing together or working together in office spaces.
- It doesn’t befall anyone due to a result of their past sins or immoral behavior.
- A person affected by leprosy has the right to live with dignity.
On this occasion of World Leprosy day 2020 , let us devote ourselves to making a leprosy-free world, by eliminating the disease as well as the social stigmas associated with it.