Incidence of leprosy on wane in Vizag district

Incidence of leprosy on wane in Vizag district
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The incidence of leprosy is declining in the district. Around 138 patients, mostly belonging to the poorer sections of the society are registered with the District Leprosy Prevention Office and are undergoing treatment at King George Hospital.

Visakhapatnam: The incidence of leprosy is declining in the district. Around 138 patients, mostly belonging to the poorer sections of the society are registered with the District Leprosy Prevention Office and are undergoing treatment at King George Hospital.

The less serious cases are referred to the PHC and medicines supplied free of cost.Four separate colonies have been formed in the district and those having more than 80 per cent infection are given a pension of Rs 1,500 per month. Others are given Rs 1,000 apart from Antyodaya card under which 35 kgs of rice is given.

“The incidence would have further come down had we had sufficient staff to implement the awareness programme,” said additional district medical and health officer (AIDS and Leprosy) Dr R Ramesh. Talking to this correspondent, he said the prevalence rate of leprosy was 0.27 cases per 10,000 population in 2016-2017 which was 0.4 cases 10 years ago. But unofficially the number of patients could be more as many are not coming out for treatment due to social stigma.

As per the National Leprosy Control programme launched in 1956, the department employees were conducting door-to-door survey to detect cases. In 2005, the government merged staff in nearest primary health centres and also provided training to PHC staff on awareness. Right now, only 20 staff were deployed for 45 lakh population in the district. The staff have to cover a vast area from Seleru to Tagarapuvalasa.

Awareness programmes were also shelved in schools and villages except for holding rallies on the Leprosy Day held every year on January 30.

Dr Ramesh said due to lack of awareness and negligence, leprosy can sometimes lead to TB. The situation in rural and Agency areas are still worse due to lack of awareness programmes. Only two patients are reported to the PHCs for the treatment though the number of affected people could be more. At the district-level, around eight new patients are reporting every month, as per the official records.

By Jatlee Dontala

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