Leprosy cases with deformity: Tamil Nadu meets India target

Officials credit better surveillance for deformity rate falling from 1.35 cases per million to 0.9
 Students participating in leprosy awareness campaign in Chennai
Students participating in leprosy awareness campaign in Chennai (file picture)

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu finally recorded less than one leprosy case of deformity per million population in 2023-24, which was the target set by the National Leprosy Eradication Programme. The state leprosy data shows that the deformity rate has dipped from 1.35 cases per million population to 0.9 cases in 2023-24. However, the state reported almost same number of new cases as previous year.

While 3,090 new leprosy cases were reported in 2022-2023, the number took a minor surge in 2023-2024 to 3,093 cases, of which 179 are children. It also detected 1,324 new cases in females. The state also achieved the target of a prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000 population (0.30).

Also, New grade II deformity cases have reduced from 105 cases in 2022-23 to 73 new cases in 2023-24. (There are two types of deformities in leprosy cases—loss of sense to the limbs without any visible deformity (grade I) and visible deformity at the time of diagnosis (grade II).)

As per data for 2023-2024, 148 reconstructive surgeries were performed, 507 patients were treated for reaction and neuritis, inflammation of the nerve, and 10,796 persons received Rs 2,000 per month under a disability maintenance grant from the Differently Abled Welfare Department.

Health department officials said the target of reducing deformities was achieved through intensified surveillance.

“In 2023-2024, the state carried out a leprosy case detection campaign (LDC) in 21 districts and detected 320 cases and one new grade II deformity case. It also conducted a Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC) and detected 138 new leprosy cases through various modes of case detection activities. The state has been conducting these campaigns for years.The newly detected cases were put on multi-drug therapy (MDT). Also, a single dose of rifampicin is given to all contacts of the new cases to prevent the spread,” said an official. Additional campaigns were also undertaken to reduce the disability rate in districts that have more than one leprosy case per million population.

Speaking about the action plan for 2024-25, an official said, “We will also focus on districts with more grade II deformity cases and more leprosy cases. There are new cases in almost all the blocks in the state, so to achieve the target of zero cases, intensified screening will be conducted in all the villages. Those villages will be focused on if new cases are reported.

"This will help to declare districts as leprosy free,” an official told TNIE. He further said that intensified awareness activities will be conducted in all schools and colleges starting in June.“As the incubation period for leprosy is five to seven years, the caseload in an area will be known only after the manifestation of the disease. People should come forward to get tested if they see white, painless patches on the skin,” he said.

Leprosy, known as Hansen’s disease, is caused by the mycobacterium leprae bacterium. It mainly affects the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes, resulting in skin lesions and nerve damage. The Union Health Ministry has devised a strategic road map for achieving zero cases of leprosy by 2030.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express