Leprosy Mukt Bharat can be achieved by 2027 with support of govt, society: Mansukh

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NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, on Monday said India is making strides in stamping out leprosy as cases are declining year after year.

“With the support of the government, and the society at large, as synergy and cooperation of all stakeholders, we can achieve the target of Leprosy Mukt Bharat by 2027, three years ahead of the SDG,” said Mandaviya.

The Union Health minister was addressing a video conference at an event to observe the National Anti-Leprosy Day here on Monday.

The theme for this year’s event was ‘Let us fight Leprosy and make Leprosy a History’.

Reiterating Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring concern for people affected with leprosy, Union Health Minister noted that the concern and commitment to treating leprosy have their origin in our history.

“His (Mahatma Gandhi’s) 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 were successful in achieving a prevalence rate of 1 case per 10,000 population at the 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,” Mandaviya said.

“Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have adopted comprehensive measures for the prevention of the development of disease. From the year 2016, renewed efforts were made for actively detecting cases under the Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC),” he added.

On the efforts of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State, said the Leprosy Programme of the country strives to detect and treat cases as early as possible, gives treatment free of cost to prevent the development of disabilities and deformities, medical rehabilitation of those with existing deformities.

She said the Welfare allowance has been raised from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 for patients for their reconstructive surgery.

Highlighting the achievements of the programme, she also 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, the annual new case detection rate per 100,000 population has come down from 9.73 in 2014-15 to 5.52 in 2021-22, she added.

“The programme also works towards spreading awareness and reducing the stigma attached to 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. The 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 said.

She also emphasised on the need to spread awareness about the stigma around leprosy.

Emphasising the 2027 leprosy eradication target, S. Gopalakrishnan, special secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said the last mile target of 2027 is going to be tougher than what has been achieved so far.

“With the experiences, whole of government and whole of the society’s approach, new strategies and the Nikusth 2.0 portal, we can achieve it,” said Gopalakrishnan. (ANI)

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