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India accounts for half of world’s leprosy patients

D.N.I.S. News Network Health officials claim that leprosy was eliminated as a public health problem in 2005, but Dr. S. K. Noordeen, President, International Leprosy Association says that though leprosy as a problem with its socio-economic implications has been eliminated significantly in the country and abroad, Indias share of the global burden is still close to 50 per cent. This speaks volumes for the state India is in with regard to eradication of leprosy.

The highest number of leprosy cases have been found in Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

Dr. G.P.S. Dhillon, Deputy Director General (Leprosy Division), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said, We started a public health programme in 1955 itself. It was only from 1983 onwards that real change came with the introduction of Multiple Drug Treatment (M.D.T.). It was then that we could even think of eradicating the disease and the National Leprosy Eradication Programme started. From a rate of 24 per 10,000 people in 1992, we have achieved the figure of 0.83 per 10,000.

The M.D.T., which brought about a revolution in the treatment of leprosy, was developed by Dr. Noordeen and his team when he joined the W.H.O. in 1979. This is now the most commonly used treatment. Though we have been able to bring down the number of leprosy cases with the help of strong national commitment and contribution by international N.G.O.s and W.H.O., there is still much to do. At least, the first fear of communicability of the disease has gone with the introduction of the M.D.T., said Dr. Noordeen.