"In Mumbai, 450 leprosy patients are registered on a yearly basis. Amongst this, only 25% of patients come from outside for the treatment,” said Dr. Raju Jotkar, Director of State Health Services Department (Leprosy). In Mumbai, more of the leprosy patients are found at M/East and L Ward.
In old days, there was a practice of disowning leprosy patients and is still prevalent in many places. In order to find out such patients, the state undertook the programme where they look out for leprosy patients and give them treatment. Despite this, every year 450 new patients are getting registered in Mumbai.
What is Leprosy?
- Leprosy is an infectious disease
- It is a long-term infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis.
- This bacteria stays in the body for long but symptoms are not seen until 9 to 10 years
- The bacteria of leprosy enters in skin and slowly grows
- A person starts feeling weak
- People who do not take treatment lose their fingers
“As this is an infectious disease, it can attack anyone. Once entered, it stays in the body only. However, it doesn't harm those who has a good immunity. Also, if we treat this disease at an early stage, it is curable,” said Dr. Vasikar, District Medical Supervisor.
He added that due to lack of awareness, many people don't visit doctor despite sensing the symptoms. Hence, the state government took an initiative of helping out such patients.
“We have leprosy patients who have been staying with us since 40 to 50 years. Their family members abandoned them here. Now, they are leaving a normal life. The problem is there is a wrong notion about this disease because of which society abandons them and they doesn't accept them. As for now, we have not admitted any new leprosy patient,” said Dr. Amita Pednekar, Chief Medical Superintendent, Acworth Hospital.