A study published in Indian Journal of Community Medicine has shown that the prevalence rate of Leprosy is more in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The study states that burden of leprosy prevalence rate is more in Vidarbha region followed by rest of the Maharashtra and Marathwada.
In Vidarbha, districts of Amravati, Buldhana, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Gondia, and Wardha are having high prevalence of leprosy as compared to the other districts.
Gadchiroli district showed high prevalance rate of 4.5 in 10 thousand in tribal districts. Gadchiroli and Chandrapur districts showed annual new case detection rate of 50 in 1 lakh.
The reason behind high number of leprosy cases in Vidarbha has been attributed to the earlier lack of healthcare facilities, skills among healthcare workers to identify leprosy cases, infection prone area, challenging geographic and tribal area of the Vidarbha region in the study.
An important factor, which has come forth in the study, is the tribal districts in Vidarbha, Marathwada, and rest of the Maharashtra have more burden of leprosy than other districts. On this background, the study has emphasised the importance of giving extra attention to the tribal areas and has warned that otherwise, the dream of Leprosy eradication by 2018 will be unrealistic and impractical.
While talking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Sanjeev Kamble, Joint Director for Leprosy and Tuberculosis, said, “Most districts in Vidarbha have tribal regions and leprosy is found to be more prevalent among tribal population. Mycobacterium leprae, which causes leprosy, shows high incubation period in these regions. Also, multibacillary leprosy affects more people. Vidarbha has always had more prevalence rate if we look back in history.”
In 2016, the Indian government had rolled out a leprosy vaccination program in some states. Dr Kamble informed that Maharashtra doesn’t have such program yet, but, the option can be considered in future.
In 2006, India declared to have eliminated Leprosy as a public health problem, as the prevalence rate in 10,000 became less than one. The study highlights that Leprosy remains a public health problem in Maharashtra as the prevalence rate remains more than one. Also, the annual new case detection rate in Maharashtra is recorded to be 22.36 per one lakh population, adding burden to national prevalence rate.