Mumbai: To create awareness about leprosy among the youngsters, the state govt has started a campaign ‘Sparsh’ to be observed till January 30. It aims to sensitise people, since the officials feel there is less public awareness regarding leprosy. People suffering from the disease are still treated as untouchable and outcastes by society and even families. Raju Jotkar, Maharashtra Health Services, JD (Leprosy) said they are are taking special measures to eradicate leprosy and to achieve this it is important to clear the misconceptions among people.
“The campaign started on January 1, and will continue till January 30, observed as ‘Leprosy Prevention Day’. Through the campaign, children in municipal and zila parishad schools will pledge not to mistreat or discriminate against people suffering from leprosy,” added Jotkar. Leprosy is caused by Mycobacterium leprae, mainly infect the nerves and skin, creating hypopigmented patches on the skin that lose sensations due to nerve damage.
Like TB, leprosy is an airborne infection, making congested localities ideal for transmission. As per a new state health dept data, more hidden leprosy cases were reported in 2018, in Mumbai as compared to those reported in 2017. 362 new leprosy cases were reported between April and December 2018, while 326 cases were found between April 2017 and March 2018.
“Every year, 450 new cases of leprosy are registered in Mumbai, while Maharashtra, records around 15,000 new cases of leprosy. The numbers are rising due to late detection and patients are not diagnosed on time,” said an official.