GUWAHATI: Poor leprosy patients across the country living in unhealthy conditions, were hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic when issues related to the disease were pushed to the backseat, experts said on Monday.
With positive cases of the infection now on the wane, NGOs and groups working for leprosy patients are planning to restart their activities.
These organisations have been trying to bring back the focus on leprosy in meetings with government officilas and by raising the issue in the media, Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation (S-ILF) and Association of People Affected by Leprosy (APAL) said.
“As the situation improves, there is a need to bring back the focus on leprosy. The disease continues to be an important public health concern which has to be addressed,” S-ILF chief executive officer Vivek Lal told PTI.
In the coming days with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, activities like distributing pamphlets, mobilising communities, sensitising students and organising rallies are planned in different states.
APAL chief executive officer Venugopal said that the many among those affected by leprosy had struggled hard to meet their basic necessities during the difficult times of the pandemic. “Already vulnerable people living in leprosy colonies have been the most severely impacted”.
S-ILF joined hands with APAL and other groups involved in creating awareness and bringing back focus on leprosy through the campaign initiatives in various states of the country.
The Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative launched the ‘Don’t forget Leprosy’ campaign in August 2021 in various countries to ensure that efforts against leprosy are not sidelined amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign continued till the World Leprosy Day on January 30 this year.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is an infectious disease that mainly affects the skin and peripheral nerves. Around 2,00,000 cases are reported each year globally.
It is curable with multi-drug therapy, but left untreated the disease can result in permanent disability. An estimated 30-40 lakh people in the world today are thought to be living with some form of disability as a result of leprosy
Source: Press Trust of India