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World Leprosy Day - Easing Pain and Giving Hope World Leprosy Day - Easing Pain and Giving Hope
by The Ovi Team
2020-01-28 10:04:13
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'The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.'
- Mother Teresa

World Leprosy Day, which falls on 28th January 2007, is a day to increase public awareness about leprosy and to encourage the flow of funds, imperative to take the cause of leprosy eradication, forward...

lepr_400The first Historic mention of Leprosy in India dates back to as early as 600 B.C., where it is denoted by a Sanskrit term ‘Kushtha’, literally meaning ‘eating away’. Reports of presence of leprosy can also be found in the ancient writings from Japan (10th century B.C) and Egypt (16th century B.C.). Ancient writers have put across several theories regarding the origin and spread of leprosy such as infection of the Nile River, unhygienic food habits of the people and so on.

People suffering from Leprosy had to face criticism and were subjected to stringent treatments even in the olden times. They were required to wear special attire and further had to carry a wooden clapper to warn other people that they were on the move. They were also prohibited from visiting public places such as mills, bake houses or churches and had to keep themselves way from touching other healthy people or eating with them. They were not allowed to walk in narrow footpaths or wash in the common water sources such as wells, streams and so on.

From what was known in the early times, we have come a long way understanding the disease. Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae that mainly invades the skin, mucous membranes and skin. Most people wrongly believe that leprosy is a skin disease. The truth, however, is that it is an air-borne disease, probably transmitted by minute respiratory droplets. G.A. Hansen first identified the bacteria in the year 1873, making it the first germ to be identified as a causative microorganism for any disease. It is also called as Hansen’s disease.

The development of Dapsone in 1941 marked a milestone in the treatment of leprosy. Clofazimine and Rifampicin represent other most commonly used drugs. Widespread use of the drug during the 1970’s resulted in the development of resistance, making it ineffective when prescribed alone. By 1985, leprosy was viewed as a major public health issue in nearly 122 countries. The introduction of a combination of Rifampicin, Clofazimine and Dapsone (MDT) in the form of ‘blister pack’ revolutionized leprosy treatment for a second time.

The provision of free MDT to several counties across the World, by the World Health Organization, restricted the further spread and incidence of the disease. The pharmaceutical company ‘Novartis’ deserves special mention with respect to the elimination of leprosy for its active participation. Sustained and consistent leprosy eradication programmes ensured the prevalence of leprosy to as low as 1 in 10,000 by the end of 2000.

The effective implementation of MDT therapy
in areas previously uncovered, early recognition of nerve damage and management of relapse following short-term MDT represent some of the challenges that have to be overcome to ensure complete eradication of leprosy.

Source: www.medindia.net

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