World Leprosy Day: The Mycobacterium leprae is a rod-shaped acid-fast bacteria responsible for chronic infectious Leprosy. This disease affects the following organs-
- Upper respiratory tract mucosa
- Peripheral nerves
What is World Leprosy Day?
On this day, businesses and non-governmental organizations host public education and outreach activities to enlighten people about ways to stop the disease from spreading. Doctors and other medical professionals spend a lot of time teaching general people how to identify leprosy signs.
Organizations also organize marches and marathons to raise money for the disease’s study, treatment, and rehabilitation of individuals affected. Additionally, conferences and workshops are organized worldwide to discuss the issues leprosy patients experience and determine how to lessen the social stigma they endure.
Importance of the World Leprosy Day
Leprosy is one of the first illnesses that humans have ever encountered. It is often referred to as Hansen’s disease after the Norwegian doctor Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, who disproved the widespread belief that Leprosy was a genetic illness at the time. He demonstrated that microorganisms caused the sickness. People with Leprosy have been ostracised and viewed as being on the outer edges of society for thousands of years. The purpose of World Leprosy Day is to alter this mindset and raise public awareness of how simple it is today to prevent and treat Leprosy.
On January 30, 1948, when Indian liberation leader Mahatma Gandhi was killed, World Leprosy Day was designated. Mahatma Gandhi dedicated his whole life to improving the lives of those who had Leprosy.
Leprosy is a chronic illness that has had its name in ancient civilizations’ literature for ages. Throughout history, families and communities have shunned people with this condition.
Leprosy is a chronic bacterial illness that can harm the nerves, eyes, skin, and respiratory system permanently and irreparably. Sensation loss in the afflicted regions is a symptom of the disease. Frequently, those who suffer from this condition cannot feel pain in the affected location, which causes them to ignore wounds or injuries that go unreported and might end in limb loss. In addition to these symptoms, an infected individual may also have weak muscles and vision problems.
In honour of the Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, credited with discovering the bacterium that causes Leprosy, the illness is also known as Hansen’s sickness.
French philanthropist Raoul Follereau started World Leprosy Day in 1954 to raise awareness of the illness, particularly its socioeconomic effects. To honour Mahatma Gandhi’s unwavering compassion for those suffering from the disease, the day is marked in India on January 30, the anniversary of his passing.
Although Leprosy was previously treated in a variety of ways, the first innovation came about in the 1940s with the creation of the drug dapsone. Compliance was challenging because the course of therapy extended for many years, perhaps a lifetime.
Treatment of Leprosy
The only treatment for Leprosy at the time, dapsone, started to lose its effectiveness against M. leprae in the 1960s. Rifampicin and clofazimine were found in the early 1960s and subsequently included in the treatment plan.
WHO endorsed Multidrug therapy in 1981. The medications dapsone, rifampicin, and clofazimine make up the current Multidrug therapy regimen. This treatment lasts six months for paucibacillary instances, and for multi-bacillary cases, it lasts 12 months. Multidrug therapy eliminates the infection while healing the patient.
Since 1981, WHO has offered Multidrug therapy without charge, the Nippon Foundation first provided funding for Free Multidrug therapy, which has been donated since 2000 as part of a contract with Novartis that will last until 2025.
Despite being treatable now and uncommon in affluent nations like the U.S., the illness still has a stigma. The countries with the highest incidence of incidents include Indonesia, Brazil, and India. As a result of frequent prejudice and exclusion, infected individuals frequently lack access to the proper medical care and treatment and are even in denial of fundamental human rights.
Leprosy significantly impacts the world’s poor populations. Thus it’s becoming increasingly common for people to forget about it casually. World Leprosy Day raise awareness about Leprosy to encourage individuals to seek treatment and lead dignified lives.
Despite several challenges and impediments, significant progress has been achieved in treating millions of people and dispelling misconceptions and societal stigma. The application of sustained political will by governments, ongoing research into the fundamentals of the illness and better medications or vaccines, and upholding a high index of suspicion in both the public and medical communities that Leprosy might be a treatable cause of a patient’s condition will, hopefully, ensure the maintenance and advancement of the progress made so far. If this is the case, there may be hope that one day, Leprosy won’t be one of the critical causes of physical impairment worldwide.
What are the primary leprosy symptoms?
Leprosy’s signs and symptoms include:
- Patches of skin that may be red or have lost their colour.
- Patches of skin without or with decreased feeling.
- Your hands, feet, arms, and legs may feel numb or tingly.
- Burns or wounds that cause no pain on the hands and feet.
- Muscle sluggishness.
Can we treat Leprosy?
The leprosy-causing bacteria will be killed by the antibiotics used during therapy. However, while the medication can treat the condition and stop it from worsening, it cannot undo any nerve damage or physical deformities that may have already developed before the diagnosis.
How does Leprosy spread?
Leprosy must be contracted through months of continuous, intimate contact with an untreated patient. Leprosy cannot be spread through innocuous interactions like shaking hands or embracing someone with Hansen’s disease.
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