More than six crore people across Maharashtra will be a part of a nation-wide door-to-door Leprosy case detection survey, starting from September 19 to October 4, said the state health minister, Deepak Sawant, on Friday.
The campaign, which falls under the National Leprosy Eradication Programme, is aimed at detecting and treating all leprosy cases in the 16 districts of Maharashtra that have reported the highest number of cases in the last three years.
These districts include Thane, Raigad, Palghar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nashik, Nandurbar, Amravati, Yavatmal, Washim, Nagpur, Wardha, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondia, and Gadchiroli.
Health officials said that although India was declared ‘eliminated of leprosy’ in 2010, there are still a number of pockets in both rural and urban parts of the country in which new cases continue to be detected.
The government has undertaken this campaign as, according to a World Health Organisation report, the percentage of grade 2 disability among new cases increased from 3.1% to 4.6% between 2014 and 2015. Grade 2 disabilities are severe forms of leprosy where the deformities are clearly visible to the eyes, said health experts.
“This indicates, that not only are cases being detected late in the community but also that there are several cases that are lying undetected and hidden,” said Dr Vivek Pai of the Bombay Leprosy Project, who is also a part of the state-appointed committee for this campaign.
State officials said that after the physical screening, all the suspected cases would be examined by skin specialists and treated free of cost.
“Even after the campaign, there will be many people who would like to get tested. The government will make provisions for them as well,” added Dr Pai.
Leprosy and its effects
Leprosy is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae that affects the nerves, upper respiratory tract and eyes
It is an air-borne disease transmitted via droplets from nose and mouth
Once a person is infected, the disease can take up to seven years to manifest
If left untreated, the disease could lead to deformities
With timely detection, the disease is completely curable
Multi-drug therapy including rifampin, clofazimine ar drugs available as treatment for Leprosy