It was World Leprosy Day last Sunday (January 31st). For a disease that most people associate with the Bible and believe has probably been eradicated since the Middle Ages, an Awareness Day may seem surprising, if not irrelevant.
But the disease has not been eliminated completely. With the introduction of multidrug therapy (MDT), the prevalence of leprosy globally may have decreased from more than five million new patients in the mid-1980s to fewer than 200,000 in 2015, but the disease is still alive and kicking.
Data from the World Health Organization Weekly Epidemiological Record 2015, show that the proportion of children with leprosy of the total new leprosy patients reported globally in 2015 is 8.8%. This is important because newly diagnosed leprosy in children indicates recent and continued transmission of infection, causing life long disabilities.
The International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP) is calling for proactive, early detection of leprosy to prevent the transmission of leprosy to children this World Leprosy Day. Campaigns about leprosy in high-risk areas are crucial so that patients and their families, who were historically ostracized from their communities, are encouraged to come forward and receive treatment. This Huffington Post article by ILEP communications specialist Katharine Jones explains more.
Sufferer Manjit, nine, from Mau tehsil, district Bhind in Madhya Pradesh went for treatment with multiple deformities.