National Strategic Plan for Leprosy: On January 30th 2023, the Government of India unveiled their National Strategic Plan and Roadmap for Leprosy (2023-2027), with the ultimate goal of zero transmission by 2027 – three years ahead of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.3. These documents contain implementation strategies, year-by-year targets, public health approaches and overall technical guidance to be utilized throughout this program.
The strategy and roadmap focus on increasing awareness to eliminate stigma and discrimination, encouraging early case detection, preventing disease transmission through prophylaxis, and launching Nikusth 2.0 – a web-based information portal for reporting leprosy cases.
India has already achieved the elimination of leprosy as a public health issue, meeting WHO criteria of less than one case per 10,000 population at the national level in 2005. Nonetheless, there remain several districts within states/union territories where leprosy persists.
Under the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP), leprosy cases have declined from 125,785 in 2014-15 to 75,394 in 2021-22 – accounting for 53.6% of global new leprosy cases. To encourage early case detection, prevent Grade 2 Disabilities, and ensure free of cost treatment for leprosy patients, the NLEP has taken several initiatives.
State-by-state NLEP data for 2022-23 (up to January’2023) has also been annexed by Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.
The National Strategic Plan and Roadmap for Leprosy (2022-37) are significant achievements in India’s fight to eliminate leprosy as a public health issue. The government’s efforts have been commendable, and this new plan should further bolster their fight against this disease. Through increased awareness, early detection methods, and prophylaxis treatments, these roadmaps aim to prevent outbreaks and provide timely care for those affected.
It is essential to remember that leprosy continues to affect millions of people worldwide, with over 200,000 new cases reported annually. India accounts for more than half of these cases, making it all the more important for the country to continue its efforts towards leprosy eradication.
The launch of National Strategic Plan for Leprosy marks an important milestone in India’s fight against leprosy; their government’s determination to achieve zero transmission by 2027 should hopefully inspire similar initiatives around the world.