Leprosy detection drive in Pune hit by Covid cases overload
The district administration is launching a special drive to detect unreported leprosy cases in the district under the “Leprosy-free Pune” programme. The annual drive was affected this year as the administration was handling Covid-19 cases.
With the district machinery overburdened with the coronavirus situation, detection of new leprosy cases and providing medication and treatment to existing patients were not carried out. Timely treatment provides relief from future complications for patients.
While more than 600 new leprosy patients could be detected in the district during last year (2019-2020), this year only 118 new cases were reported.
Ayush Prasad, chief executive officer (CEO), zilla parishad said, “As per the guideline by the health and family welfare department, central ministry, to avoid complications for patients suffering from leprosy, timely detection and treatment is essential. It is also important to prevent any more social boycott or misunderstanding regarding leprosy. To prevent further spread of leprosy, we will conduct a door-to-door survey to detect patients having initial symptoms and also provide free medication to existing patients who could not get regular medical attention due to the pandemic.”
Dr Hukumchand Patole, assistant coordinator, health department (leprosy), said, “The detection and reporting of leprosy cases have been hampered and so this survey will help us find those cases which are unaware or are not reporting to us. If they are detected on time then under various schemes the government provides free timely treatment and medications too. Due to the Covid pandemic, the staff which is responsible for detection were unavailable and also rural hospitals were converted into dedicated Covid hospitals.”
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, who chairs the Maharashtra Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Technical Committee, said, “Early detection and timely treatment can help in eliminating leprosy. It is a shame that we have not been able to eliminate the ailment even in 2020 when the goal was set to eliminate this disease back by 2018. Leprosy was always considered a tropical disease and so it was never prioritised. During surveys, we found that even kids were infected, which is why we could never meet our goal.”
District collector Rajesh Deshmukh said, “I appeal to residents to coordinate with the squad during the survey. It is important that patients are detected on time and they receive the right treatment.”