Leprosy incidence growing in city, The Hindu
November 30, 2006
Sivananda Rehabilitation Home alone receiving an average of 10 new cases every month
HYDERABAD: Leprosy, contrary to public perception, is still around. Or that is what disturbing figures from a prominent leprosy treatment and rehabilitation centre in the city indicate.
According to a Government official and statistics submitted to the State Leprosy wing, the Sivananda Rehabilitation Home (SRH) in Kukatpally alone was receiving an average of 10 new cases every month, with around four to five of them on an average being that of the infectious variety.
In 2005, the SRH registered 379 fresh cases from different districts of the State, while in 2006 there were 113 cases till November.
The number in 2004 was around 370.
In November, out of the 11 cases registered, six were infectious ones.
Patients from all over
"It is not just one particular place from where new cases are coming. They are getting patients from almost every district.
While Ranga Reddy, Mahbubnagar and Medak report regular cases, even Hyderabad has new cases every month," the Government official told The Hindu.
Shockingly, several of the cases reported from Hyderabad were those of children.
In October, a five-year-old girl from Borabanda came for treatment while subsequent child patients included an eight-year-old girl from Miyapur.
New infections were reported from Nallakunta, Moosarambagh, Kismatpur and "quite a lot" from the Charminar area as well, the official said.
"The average age of the patients they are getting is from 20 to 25," he added.
In a peculiar case from Erragadda, a 13-year-old boy whose father was completely cured from leprosy also reported infection.
"The father, in spite of knowing about the disease, did not send his son in time for treatment. The boy is undergoing treatment now," the official informed. However, State Leprosy Officer M. Madhava Rao, saying that anti-leprosy programmes were still on, insisted several times that "everything was under control." "The figures keep varying. But leprosy is under control," he said.
The reason for the continuing incidence of leprosy, another health official said, was the under-reporting of cases from the grassroot level health monitoring machinery and the subsequent complacency.
Programme not sustained
The leprosy elimination programme was integrated with the primary health centres (PHC), but was not sustained in the way it should have been.
"PHC employees these days are busy with the HIV and family campaign, dengue and other diseases. As a result, the public does not know that leprosy treatment and drugs are available from PHCs. The fact that many patients going to Sivananda Home are from other districts, where PHCs are abundant, shows that the awareness part of the anti-leprosy campaign has failed," the official said.
Dennis Marcus Mathew
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