The government has set a goal to make Nepal a leprosy-free country by 2020.
Accordingly, preparations are underway to celebrate World Leprosy Day across the nation on Sunday under the main theme ‘Let’s do timely treatment of leprosy to avoid disability’.
The World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday of January every year.
A data shows that 200,000 new leprosy patients are reported in the world every year and 3,000 in Nepal.
Leprosy was eliminated globally in the year 2000 with the disease prevalence rate dropping to below 1 per 10,000 population. Though all countries have achieved this rate at the national level, at the sub-national level, it remains an unfinished agenda. Leprosy continues to afflict the vulnerable, causing life-long disabilities in many patients, subjecting them to discrimination, stigma and a life marred with social and economic hardships.
A total of 175,000 leprosy patients are receiving treatment across the world, while 2,500 such patients are undergoing treatment in Nepal. While there has been a gradual decrease in the overall number of leprosy patients in the world, there has not been much progress in Nepal since 2010. The data shows that 3,100 leprosy patients in Nepal and 210,000 patients across the world cured the disease.
Deputy Director of the Department of Health Services and chief of the Leprosy Control Division Dr Basudev Pandey said that the number of leprosy patients is high in South Asian countries. India has 137,000 leprosy patients, he added.
Pandey said that the number of leprosy patients in Nepal is high in Banke and Bardiya districts. He said that the government has a target to make the remaining 18 districts—Achham, Mugu, Surkhet, Banke, Bardiya, Kapilvastu, Nawalparasi, Chitwan, Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Siraha, Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa leprosy-free districts by 2020.
Dr GA Hansen of Norway in 1873 discovered leprosy disease caused due to the mycobacterium leprae. So it is also known as ‘Hansen disease’.