India is making progress as new leprosy cases are declining year after year, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in his video address at an event to observe the National Anti-Leprosy Day here on Monday.
The theme of this year was 'Let us fight Leprosy and make Leprosy history'. "With the whole of government, whole of society support, synergy and cooperation, we can achieve the target of Leprosy Mukt Bharat by 2027, three years ahead of the SDG," Mandaviya said.
Reiterating Mahatma Gandhi's enduring concern for people affected with leprosy, he said that the concern and commitment to treat leprosy has its origin in our history. "His vision was not only to treat them but also to mainstream them in our society.
Our efforts to eliminate leprosy from this country under National Leprosy Eradication Programme is a great tribute to his vision. We are successful in achieving prevalence rate of 1 case per 10,000 population at national level in 2005.
The need of the hour is consistent efforts to eliminate leprosy. It is a curable disease, however if it is not detected and treated at the early stage, it can cause permanent disabilities and deformities among the affected person, leading to discrimination of such persons and their family members in the community," he said.
Accentuating on the efforts of National Leprosy Eradication Programme, Union Minister of State for Health, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, said: "Our Leprosy Programme strives to detect and treat cases as early as possible, gives treatment free of cost to prevent the development of disabilities and deformities, and medical rehabilitation of those with existing deformities.
The Welfare allowance has been raised from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 to patients for their reconstructive surgery." Highlighting the achievements of the programme, she informed that the prevalence rate of leprosy has come down from 0.69 per 10,000 population in 2014-15 to 0.45 in 2021-22.
Further, annual new case detection rate per 100,000 population has come down from 9.73 in 2014-15 to 5.52 in 2021-22. "The programme also work towards spreading awareness and reducing stigma attached with the disease.
Surveillance was also strengthened by introducing ASHA-based Surveillance for Leprosy Suspects (ABSULS) where grassroot level workers constantly engaged in examining and reporting suspects.
Special emphasis under the Focused Leprosy Campaign (FLC) was given to areas that were difficult to access or had child cases and cases with disabilities. Since 2015, with the constant efforts under NLEP, we have been able to prevent many cases of disability due to leprosy," she added.