Leprosy Current Affairs - 2019
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The World Leprosy Day is observed internationally every year on last Sunday of January month to raise global awareness of Leprosy. This year it was observed on 28 January. Observance of the day focuses on target of zero cases of leprosy-related disabilities in children.
The day was initiated by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau in 1954 as way to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured.
Leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) is one of the oldest diseases known to humankind. It is caused by by a slow-growing type of bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae), which multiplies very slowly in the human body. The bacterium has a long incubation period (on average 5 years or longer). The disease affects nerve endings and destroys the body’s ability to feel pain and injury. It is chronic granulomatous disease that mainly affects skin and peripheral nervous system. It can also affect the eyes and respiratory system. It is curable with multidrug therapy (MDT). Treatment provided in the early stages averts disability.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), despite being eliminated globally as public health problem in 2000, leprosy continues to mar lives of individuals, and impacts families and communities. In 2015, Leprosy affected 212 000 more people globally of them 60% were in India.
The Union Government has launched nationwide “Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC)” on the occasion of Anti-Leprosy Day (observed on the last Sunday of January).
The day is observed every year on January 30 in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi who attained martyrdom on this day in 1948, to remember his selfless efforts and care for the people affected with Leprosy.
Need for Campaign
- Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae and it usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves. The mode of transmission of leprosy is still not known.
- According to WHO, the diseased had affected 2,12,000 people globally in 2015. India alone reported 1,27,326 new cases, accounting for 60% of new cases globally.
- India is among the 22 countries considered as having a “high burden for leprosy” along with high transmission. The other high-burden countries were Brazil and Indonesia.
Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign
- The thrust of SLAC campaign is to promote community participation in diagnosis and treatment of leprosy in its early stages and to spread awareness about the disease to help in early diagnosis and treatment.
- It seeks to promote decentralised community-based demand-driven approach from present centralised top-down delivery-driven approach to fight the disease.
- It also seeks to empower local communities to take over the responsibility of sensitising people to not stigmatise and discriminate against those affected.