Contrary to the Government’s claims that leprosy is on decline in the country, the Indian Association of Dermatologists Venereologists & Leprologists (IADVL) during its unique 63 days drive which culminated here on Thursday noted that there were high endemic pockets of the crippled disease and that patients were suffering with serious infectious cases.
“What is worrying is that in the last two three-years, and that what we also noticed during our drive undertaken in 18 States that we are seeing patients with multibacillary leprosy - the more severe form, which includes some of the most infectious cases,” said Dr Mukesh Girdhar, national Vice President, IADVL.
He said such patients (multibacillary leprosy) need advanced and regular treatment for longer duration. “Yes, there is resurgence of cases, severe cases. Disability index of these patients is definitely high. "In fact, approximately 40 patients afflicted with leprosy visited our doctors at the camps set up during the drive in various States. Most of these were serious cases.” said Dr Girdhar, highlighting the gravity of the situation.
“Due to lack of public awareness there is a delay in diagnosis of leprosy,” Dr Dinesh Kumar Devaraj, Joint Secretary IADVL said, adding most leprosy cases were from Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra.
During the drive, the association reached out to more that 3,00,000 people with chronic cases as high as 95 per cent and recurrent cases as high as 60 per cent.
One of the other diseases that was widely prevalent was Vitiligo. More than 10 million Indians suffer from Vitiligo. Dr Rohit Batra, dermatologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Chairman, IADVL People Connect Cell said that “Even though the prevalence of vitiligo is 1-2 per cent of the general population but we observed that out of all the people approached us during the drive it was more than 5 per cent.”
Talking about fungal infection observed during the drive, Dr Girdhar, said, “There were a lot of patients suffering from fungal infections. We saw chronic cases as high as 95 per cent and recurrent cases as high as 60 per cent. Family members were affected up to 70 per cent and more than 80 per cent of child cases have an affected adult in family. Also, 50 to 70 per cent have used steroid creams for fungal infections.”
Quackery is of major concern in these situations where Schedule H drugs are prescribed by unqualified people (quacks), said the experts.