Improper treatment leads to this sorry state of affairs

Leprosy seems to be making a comeback in the Krishna district because of reduction in periodic survey for cases and improper treatment.

The Anti-Leprosy Fortnight came to a close on Thursday. Deputy Para-Medical Officer G. Prabhakar told The Hindu that there were indications of leprosy flaring up in the district. In 2006-07, the prevalence of the disease was as high as 54 cases in 1,000.

Mr. Prabhakar, who is head of the Kankipadu Community Health and Nutrition Centre (CHNC) that monitored leprosy cases, said that the prevalence of leprosy which should be one in 1,000 cases as per health norms, had increased to 40 in 1,000 in 2011-12 in villages under Kankipadu cluster that covered three mandals.

The number of cases had already touched 40 in 2013-14 with one and a half months still to go, he said.

Mr. Prabhakar said that 10 years ago the prevalence of leprosy was brought down to 2 cases per 1,000. The target of one case per 1,000 could never be achieved for various reasons.

Subsequently, the vertical leprosy programmes were slowly wound up and the staff transferred to Primary Health Centres (PHCs) reducing the monitoring and treatment. Earlier, periodic surveys were made resulting in early detection of cases.

In yet another change in the disease pattern, the number of pauci-bacillary cases was more than the number of multi-bacillary cases.

This was a clear indication that there was a delay in detection of cases, Mr.Prabhakar said.

Resistance to drugs was also high because there was no proper monitoring of treatment. In most cases, the dosage of medication being administered was also not sufficient, he said.

The situation was pretty bad in Challapalli cluster also where prevalence of Leprosy had increased to between 20 and 25 per 1,000 and in Jaggaiahpet the prevalence had also increased to between 15 and 20 cases per 1,000. The prevalence in Machilipatnam was 10 per 1,000.

Mr.Prabhakar said unless regular surveys were conducted by dedicated staff through a vertical programme the flare up could not be checked. Sufficient technical staff was needed for proper treatment and supervision and sufficient medication should be made available.