Leprosy weeded out in India | india | Hindustan Times
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Leprosy weeded out in India

With the prevalence rate dropping to 0.95 cases per 10,000 population, leprosy has been eliminated from India, announced health minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Monday.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2006 02:05 IST

With the prevalence rate dropping to 0.95 cases per 10,000 population, leprosy has been eliminated from India, announced health minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Monday. This, however, does not mean that no new leprosy infections or cases will occur. Unlike eradication, which means wiping out the disease for good — as was done in the case of small pox — elimination is a term used to define an occurrence rate of less than one case per 10,000 population.

Delhi, however, continues to have a prevalence rate of 2.11 per 10,000, with the only two other Union territories and one state: Chandigarh (2.03), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (2.44) and Chhattisgarh (2.44). Delhi also boasts of the only two districts in the country with a prevalence rate of 5/10,000 population: New Delhi and Central. "Most of the leprosy cases reported from Delhi are among the migrant population who are in the Capital to get treated in the big hospitals such as Ram Manohar Lohia and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences," says a health ministry official.

In the rest of the country, prevalence rate dropped sharply all through last year, coming down from 1.34 cases per 10,000 of the population on April 1 to 0.95 in December 2005. "It is the final step before eradication. By December 31, 2005, the prevalence rate had dropped to 0.95 case per 10,000 population," said Ramadoss. The National Health Policy 2002 had set a goal of leprosy elimination in India by the end of 2005.

Leprosy cases in the country dropped from 1.49 lakh in April 2005 to 1.07 lakh on December 31, 2005. New leprosy cases detected between April and December were 1.27 lakh, 35 per cent lower as compared to 2004. Six states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh — account for 41 per cent of the country's population but 60 per cent of the leprosy cases.

Of the 596 districts in the country, 337 had achieved incidence rate of less than one case per 10,000 by March 2005. But by the end of last year, the number rose to 408 districts (68.7 per cent).