Leprosy Mailing List – February 16, 2017
Ref.: (LML) Government of India proposes new action plan against leprosy in its parliament
From: P. Narasimha Rao, Hyderbad, India
It is heartening to note that this year’s annual national budget presented by finance minister Mr Arun Jaitley on 1 February 2017 to Indian Parliament mentions about leprosy. The budget paper in its page 15 states that ‘Government of India has prepared an action plan to ‘eliminate’ leprosy by 2018. It also mentions that 150 000 health sub-centers all over India would be transformed into Health & wellness centers.
This is a laudable and welcome initiative. More details are awaited to bring clarity it this action plan. However, there are couple of issues we need to take note of. The year 2018 is just a year away and second, what the term “elimination’ actually implies in regard to leprosy in Government of India’s new action plan, as India has reached WHO elimination target for leprosy by the end of year 2005 itself. If it is state and district wise elimination (local elimination) the document is referring to, India still has some distance to cover.
The National leprosy elimination programme (NLEP), India – Report of 2014 -15 reads as follows: 34 States/ Union territories (U.T) had already achieved the level of WHO elimination target i.e. PR < 1 case per 10,000 population. One State (Chhattisgarh) and One U.T. (Dadra & Nagar Haveli) has remained with PR between 2 and 5 per 10,000 populations. Four other States/UT viz. Odisha, Chandigarh, Delhi and Lakshadweep which achieved elimination earlier have shown slight increase in P.R. (1-2), for the year 2014-15.
While 532 districts in India have reached the elimination, 137 (out of 669) districts in India still have PR of leprosy of >1 indicating that local elimination is still to be reached.
Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s Deputy Director General (Leprosy) Anil Kumar in which he stated that many as 31,666 “hidden” leprosy cases were detected in a door-to-door survey held in September and October across 20 states. This included 3,755 pediatric cases
This new initiative of Government of India gives welcome hope to detect and bring down the leprosy numbers further in India.
P. Narasimha Rao, MD, PhD
p/s Note editor: in the context of this communication we like to refer to the LML letter by Joel Almeida of February 9, 2017 “ India's Supreme Court issues order”.
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