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India declared leprosy-free in 2004; drive identifies 53 cases in Pune

State health department carried the surveillance programme from October 4 for 15 days to achieve WHO target of eliminating leprosy by 2020

pune Updated: Oct 30, 2018 18:25 IST
Nozia Sayyed
Nozia Sayyed
Hindustan Times, Pune
According to Dr Padmaja Jogewar, state director for leprosy, at least 4,000 new cases of leprosy have come to the fore in Maharashtra. Of the new positive cases, 46 are from Mumbai and 53 in Pune.(REUTERS/FOR REPRESENTATION ONLY)

PUNE Fifty-three cases of leprosy have been identified in Pune by a leprosy detection programme organised by the state health department, which ran from October 4, 2018, for 15 days.

The details of the findings in the state were released to HT by Sanjeev Kamble, state director, health services, who said, “It was a surveillance programme that we conducted to achieve the WHO target of eliminating leprosy by 2020.”

India was declared leprosy-free in 2004.

Dr Padmaja Jogewar, state director for leprosy, said, “At least 4,000 new cases of this crippling disease have come to the fore in Maharashtra. Of the new positive cases, 46 are from Mumbai and we found 53 in Pune. We were not expecting these many new cases, but since the incubation period for this disease is between one and four years, symptoms only arise late and hence, there is a delay in identifying cases. Treating it early can reverse this disease and also if people who are in contact with patients are given prophylactic measures, chances of developing leprosy can be curbed.”

“The post exposure prophylactic treatment will be provided to all affected on November 15 by the state leprosy department, through primary health care centres located in all districts and villages,” Dr Sanjeev Kamble said.

Dr Jogewar said, “People like friends, family, acquaintances too will be spotted by us and will receive the treatment to curb the spread of the virus.”

The prevalence rate of leprosy, which was 0.6 per cent before the survey, is now at four per cent in Maharashtra, which is huge according to the state health department.

As per the reports released on October 24, of the 2,74,139 cases that were identified as suspected leprosy cases, 1,83,880 were examined and 4,062 were detected as positive - i.e. carrying the virus and with some form of deformity.

“The campaign was run in all 35 districts of Maharashtra. This was our first leprosy detection campaign which was also conducted to pay tribute to the Father of the nation — Mahatma Gandhi — on his 150th birth anniversary. Gandhiji was known for his dedication and work towards leprosy patients.”

Elaborating, Dr Jogewar added, “Now we have decided to spot all hidden cases and treat them as soon as possible to stop the disease from spreading as it is contagious and virulent in nature. It spreads mainly through airways and early detection si the only way to treat it soon.”

“The prevalence rate has gone up tremendously and some of the districts are majorly hit; like Nashik, Palghar, Chandrapur and Nagpur. This increase is indeed threatening as this disease leads to deformity and social stigma and dependency in those affected.”

First Published: Oct 30, 2018 14:43 IST