NEW DELHI: As a last minute push to eradicate Leprosy, the Union Health Ministry has launched a “House to House” campaign to screen nearly 32 crore people for the disease in key states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
The programme, which has been launched across 149 districts of the country, would be the biggest Leprosy Case Detection Campaign in the country.
The 15-day campaign will cover 1,656 blocks in urban areas of these districts and screen a total of 32 crore people for Leprosy, a senior health ministry official said.
The government has formed 29,7604 teams for this purpose. Each team, comprising of one lady ASHA worker and one male volunteer each, would visit every house in their allotted areas and screen all family members for Leprosy.
The states and Union Territories covered in this campaign are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Delhi and Lakshadweep.
All districts having a prevalence rate of more than one case per 10,000 population in any of the last three years have been included in this campaign, the official said.
Under this programme, each and every member of the targeted population will be examined by the search team constituted of one male and one female volunteer at household level. House to house visits will be done by the search team as per the micro plan prepared for the local area to detect hidden and undetected leprosy cases.
As part of a pilot project which was launched in March-April in 50 districts, 65,427 suspected cases were identified out of which 4,120 were later confirmed.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves, but has a wide range of clinical manifestations. The disease is characterized by long incubation period generally 5-7 years.
Leprosy is a leading cause of permanent physical disability. Timely diagnosis and treatment of cases, before nerve damage has occurred, is the most effective way of preventing disability due to leprosy.
The number of Leprosy cases in India in 2003 was 30,00,000 which was reduced to a lakh in 2005, but since then there has been no remarkable achievement as far as total elimination was concerned.