Saturday, 25 May 2024
Saturday, 25 May 2024

Twelve children diagnosed with leprosy in fifteen days CEO fears the worst

Recent news from Mumbai, home to SFLG’s partner, Bombay Leprosy Project, reports that a special health drive conducted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to detect leprosy, has found twelve children among 88 cases in the last fifteen days. The health drive has helped detect cases of leprosy that were lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is the highest number of new cases detected in the last five years,” said Dr VV Pai, Director of SFLG’s partner, Bombay Leprosy Project. “After the special drive is over, we will carefully analyse every child detected to understand how many are local, how many have progressive disease and which form of leprosy.”

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare services were diverted toward Covid-19 management and new leprosy case detection was suspended. The referral and treatment services were also affected. This diversion has led to a huge backlog of cases that are now being detected with the special drive. Grade-2 (visible) leprosy disability occurs if someone with leprosy has not taken treatment for more than two years.”

“The need for surveillance of treated patients for identifying clinical events such as reaction, nerve damage, disability, relapse is very important and screening of contacts of treated patients for new case detection is essential.”

The BMC health officials in Mumbai commented that the proportion of advanced leprosy has increased which can be attributed to the backlog of missed detection over the past two years due to the pandemic. Around eight per cent of the eighty-eight cases had Grade 2 leprosy or visible deformities. BMC said there are close to 10,402 suspected leprosy cases detected in the special drive.

“I was shocked to hear these new case numbers in Mumbai, although not entirely surprised” said Clare McIntosh, SFLG’s Chief Executive Officer.

“When you find children with leprosy, it shows that the disease has been spreading in a community. But there may be worse to come. Some of these children may be suffering from visible disabilities caused by leprosy which will affect them for life.”

“There has been no healthcare provided for people with leprosy during the Covid-19 pandemic. I strongly urge governments in those locations to scale up their healthcare provision and step up their leprosy programmes again. I applaud the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for taking taken such positive action.”

SFLG’s TRACE operating strategy is putting an emphasis on Active Case-Finding; early detection of leprosy followed by treatment with multidrug therapy, reflecting new global approaches in the ongoing fight against leprosy. SFLG has six Active Case-Finding projects in operation with three more due to start in 2023.

Clare McIntosh, SFLG’s Chief Executive Officer, will be presenting SFLG’s early results from its Active Case-Finding programme during the 21st International Leprosy Congress 2022 at the HITEX Exhibition Center in Hyderabad, India. 

Bombay Leprosy Project is a Non-Government Organisation founded by the eminent leprologist, Dr R Ganapati. He transformed leprosy treatment from a closed institutionalised approach to a widespread community-based intervention. The Active Case-Finding project with SFLG increases awareness of leprosy in the Dharavi slums of Mumbai. This project is being achieved by training and engaging local community volunteers who will conduct door-to-door awareness campaigns. 

Mumbai, also known as Bombay, is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra and the de facto financial centre of India. It is the second-most populous city in India after Delhi and the eighth-most populous city in the world with a population of around twenty million people. It has an inner-city population of 12.5 million living under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

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