OFFICIALS are planning triple health spending to halt the return of leprosy, after new figures revealed the number of cases in India have increased, seven years after ‘eradication’.
Due to the continuing stigma surrounding leprosy, many sufferers in India delay treatment and seek the help of priests before visiting a doctor.
This news is especially worrying, as in some areas it has been reported that 60 per cent of new cases detected were found to be in advanced stages.
"Usually when active surveillance is followed, the proportion of paucibacillary (PB) leprosy cases is expected to be 90 per cent or more, and multibacillary (MB) or advanced cases of leprosy should be less than 10 percent. Delayed detection could be the major cause of this drastic shift from PB to MB," Times of India (2013)
A late leprosy diagnosis can result in permanent deformity, and it is deformity that creates stigma within society.
Women are particularly vulnerable to being ostracised from the family and many find themselves living in isolation and extreme poverty.
Photo: typical leprosy patch on a lady sent by Usha for further diagnosis as a suspected case.