World Leprosy Day

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    • In 2023, World Leprosy Day will be observed on 29 January.

    About Leprosy Day

    • World Leprosy Day is observed every year on the last Sunday of January.
    •  In India, it is observed on 30th January every year, coinciding with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.   
      • He was deeply committed to the cause of leprosy-affected persons.
    • It aims to create awareness against the stigma and discrimination attached to the disease, by making the general community aware that it is a disease spread by a type of bacteria and it can be easily cured. 
    • The theme of World Leprosy Day 2023 is “Act Now. End Leprosy.”
      •  The theme stresses three main points: 
        • elimination of leprosy is possible
        • immediate action is required, which includes resources and commitment
        • leprosy is preventable and treatable, hence people still suffering from it is a needless thing.

    Leprosy 

    • It is also known as Hansen’s disease and is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. 
    • The disease affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. 
    • It is known to occur at all ages ranging from early childhood to old age. 
    • Transmission: It is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.
      • The disease is not spread through casual contact with a person who has leprosy like shaking hands or hugging, sharing meals or sitting next to each other.
    • Impacts: Left untreated, the disease may cause progressive and permanent disabilities.
    • Spread: It is reported from all six WHO Regions; the majority of annual new case detections are from South-East Asia.
      • It is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) which still occurs in more than 120 countries, with more than 200 000 new cases reported every year.
    • Treatment: It is a curable disease
      • The currently recommended treatment regimen consists of three drugs: dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine. 
      • The combination is referred to as multi-drug therapy (MDT). 
    • WHO response: WHO provides technical support to Member States on leprosy prevention and control. 
      • The Global Leprosy Strategy 2021–2030 “Towards zero leprosy” was developed through a broad consultative process with all major stakeholders during 2019 and 2020.
    • Efforts of India:   The Government is implementing the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) with the goal of making India leprosy free. 
      • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the umbrella of the National Health Mission (NHM). 
      • It is implemented in all the States/UTs.
      • The World Health Organization (WHO), working through the country office in India, supports the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP).
      • Major initiatives under NLEP are as follows:
        • Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) in high endemic districts.
        • Focused Leprosy Campaign (FLC) in low-endemic districts for case detection.
        • ASHA Based Surveillance for Leprosy Suspects (ABSULS).
        • Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign on 30th January every year.
        • Active Case Detection and Surveillance both in rural and urban areas.
        • Convergence of leprosy screening under Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) for screening of children (0-18 years) and under Ayushman Bharat for screening of people above 30 years of age.

    Source: LM