CHANDIGARH HAS figured on the list of 118 districts in the country with high endemicity of leprosy cases. The list has been prepared by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare after a countrywide leprosy cases detection campaign was launched in September, which also revealed that the city has 10 confirmed cases. Those districts included in the high endemicty list have a prevalence rate of 1 case per 10,000 population or more. The city’s prevalence rate is 1.12.
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According to official statistics, 852 suspected leprosy cases were detected during a house-to-house survey conducted in 28 areas of the city from where hospitals get frequent cases. Of the total suspected cases, 10 were confirmed. The survey was part of efforts to eradicate the disease from the country. For the survey, 570 teams were constituted comprising around 1,200 workers who visited 1,61,593 households, covering a population of 7 lakh.
Leprosy, which spreads through prolonged or repeated contact with an untreated patient, is of two types – paucibacillary (PB) leprosy and six multibacillary (MB). MB is the one which causes infection whereas PB is less infectious. Symptoms, doctors say, can appear between 2 and 20 years after a person gets infected. Of the 10 cases, Chandigarh has four (PB) and six (MB) cases. All of them were migrant labourers and living in Chandigarh. The national prevalence of leprosy disease is 0.66 cases per 10,000 population. Chandigarh, however, has 1.12. Officials, however, said that the situation is not bad in Chandigarh.
“The population of the city is small. Even a small increase will lead to the increase in prevalence. If we compare the data of previous years, the numbers are going down,” Dr A K Puri, Assistant Director General (Leprosy), told Chandigarh Newsline.
“We are creating awareness among the residents about the disease. But, much more is required,” State Leprosy Consultant Dr Thingujam Lenica told Chandigarh Newsline, pointing out, “The challenge is the migratory population which keeps travelling from one place to another and takes the disease along.” She added, “Now, the disease is targeting those living in slums in the city,”
“The number of leprosy cases in the city is increasing because of increasing migratory population,” Dr Simrat Kaur, State Leprosy Officer, Chandigarh, told Chandigarh Newsline. “Leprosy is treatable. Those who have symptoms should report to the health centres so that it can be treated at the earliest.”
According to health officials, every month at the OPDs of PGI, GMSH in Sector 16, GMCH 32 and Civil Hospital Manimajra, around 15-20 new cases are examined. Going by the health ministry figures, 31,666 hidden leprosy cases were detected in the latest survey conducted across 20 states.