The mere mention of leprosy continues to evoke fear and dread among people across the board. The adversities suffered by leprosy patients are multipronged including medical, social and psychological problems.
Although in 2005, leprosy was formally announced as eliminated as a public health problem, India continues to have a high burden of disease, accounting close to 58% of the cases worldwide.
In Lepra, we were inspired by Saint Teresa’s work and decided to do our share in helping the Missionaries of Charity in their work in treating and rehabilitating Leprosy patients. We began field work in the late nineties. Our formal outreach program began in 2006.
Today our major activities and highlights are as follows:
- Provide a broad range of treatments and physiotherapy sessions alongside the Missionaries of Charity sisters at Seema Puri, East Delhi, every Wednesday.
- Medical examination and treatment on the streets at Lodhi Road environs by organising street health camps from our mobile van with a doctor, helper and counselor, every Thursday. We also conduct medical examinations of leprosy patients at Majnu Ka Tila, Noth Delhi, organizing a health camp, every Saturday.
- We provide counseling services both at Lodhi Road and Seemapuri, on Thursdays and Fridays to educate leprosy patients in groups and/or one on one, about hygiene, importance of regular treatment and a positive attitude towards life.
In India, inspite of having achieved Leprosy elimination as a public health problem, (<1 new case per 10,000 population), a total of 1.27 Lakh new cases were detected in 2014-15 (WHO figures). Recently the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conducted an intensive leprosy detection program in 20 states of India and 20,000 new hidden cases of leprosy were detected.
We still have a long way to go to eliminate leprosy as a public heath problem.