Wednesday, January 30, 2013

IDF observes Anti-Leprosy Week

Awareness is the key

Anti-Leprosy week starts from the martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi to 5th February enabling various NGOs to give scientific information on leprosy to the masses and sensitizing the public on the disease, observed Dr. Narayan B. Iyer, CEO, IDF.
Indian Development Foundation (formerly Indian Leprosy Foundation) a leading national NGO working for health, education and rural development has its head office located in Goregaon West Mumbai.  IDF has planned various activities nation-wide awareness programmes during this week.

Awareness holds the key to lowering down the incidence of leprosy and students are best suited to spread awareness among the people, observed Dr. Iyer who along with his team will be visiting various educational institutions in the city to create awareness during this week.

India had an estimated 40 lakhs of leprosy cases in 1982. With intensive work by the government, National and International NGOs and committed citizens groups, the number of leprosy cases dropped down to less than a lakh by 2005 and India declared "leprosy elimination" status endorsed by WHO.
  Social stigma continues to haunts the patients though a lot of awareness campaigns had been conducted, said Dr. A.R.K.Pillai, President of IDF.   According to the figures from Ministry of Health, Govt. of India, India has a total of 0.83 lakh cases on record with a prevalence rate of 0.68 per 10,000 population.  530 districts out of the 640 districts in India have achieved leprosy elimination status. Chhattisgarh (1.69 per 10,000 population) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (2.93 per 10,000) have the prevalence rate between 1 and 3 per 10,000, he added.

IDF is committed to leprosy elimination work.
  Networking of NGOs for a common cause is the need of the hour and this will help for a greater humanitarian benefit, Dr. Pillai added. IDF team will be covering up government schools and other educational institutions during the week disseminating scientific information on leprosy.  He said students' participation in leprosy elimination programmes needs to be written in the letters of gold.

Leprosy is completely curable today. An air-borne disease caused by mycobacterium leprae, leprosy was a scourge of humanity and it carried a lot of misconceptions. Leprosy is a socio-medical problem. Leprosy is a disease with a high degree of stigma attached through centuries. This was mainly because of the fact that there was no cure for the disease till the eighties and also due to disfigurement caused by the disease. Though the number of leprosy cases has come down, the stigma still prevails. A lot need to be done with regard to rehabilitation of persons affected with leprosy, Dr. Pillai said.

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