Bhubaneswar, March 20: State government aims to eradicate leprosy from its roots by 2020, hence WHO goodwill ambassador Yohei Sasakawa visited Dhenkanal district in Odisha on Sunday. Odisha aims to bring down disability and deformities caused by leprosy to zero number by 2020.
Dhenkanal district of Odisha is one of the most leprosy affected districts, where WHO goodwill ambassador interacted with leprosy patients. Officials updated him about state government's plans and measures taken to contain spread of the disease in Odisha. Sasakawa expressed satisfaction with the measures taken by state government to deal with leprosy situation. "The ASHA workers are doing a great job in the state. They are not only helping in identification of the patients but also ensuring proper care to leprosy patients," said Sasakawa.
The Centre and State governments have taken the initiative to spread awareness against leprosy and take necessary measures like door to door screening of patients, increasing number of reconstructive surgery camps for leprosy patients to meet the target. Health Ministry's Deputy Director General on Leprosy, Dr Anil Kumar said Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC) will be launched in Odisha in April. Under the campaign, awareness will be created at gram sabha level. "State officials have been directed to cover each and every village under the program to ensure early detection of leprosy cases and to create awareness about the disease at the grassroots level.”
"Presently, reconstructive surgeries of over 300 leprosy disabled patients are done in state every year. Our aim is to increase the number to 1000. Preventing disability due to leprosy is our priority," said State joint Director (Leprosy) Dr Bijay Swain. Swain said in 2016-17, at least 9901 new leprosy patients were detected in the state through screening camps. Out of these newly detected cases, over 400 patients were disabled. Some of the worst leprosy affected districts are Bolangir, Bargarh, Sonepur and Boudh. "The figures are more because we had carried our intensive door to door screening of leprosy patients last year. Many of the patients were detected in early stage so we were able to cure them by providing timely treatment," said Swain.