India has recorded highest number of leprosy cases in the world followed by Brazil and Indonesia. While globally in 2008, 2.5 new cases of leprosy were reported, India has 1.37 lakh of those followed by 38,914 cases in Brazil and 17,441 in Indonesia.
According to WHO latest estimate around 35% of new leprosy cases in India are of women which stands around 48,000.India also reported the highest number of children (13,610) detected with leprosy. India has around 700 leper colonies and also reported in highest number of relapse cases.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae which affects the skin, nerves, upper respiratory tract and the eyes. It is curable and treatment can avert disability in the earlier stages. The leprosy causing bacteria multiplies very slowly and the incubation period of the disease in 5 years. Symptoms can take as long as 20 years to appear.
Official figures show that 2.49 lakh new cases are reported globally in 2008.India’s National Health Policy 2002 had set the goal of elimination of leprosy by the year 2005.India achieved this goal in December 2005 when the recorded prevalence rate PR in the country was 0.95/10,000 population.