Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla lauds the Rotary Club of Delhi South and partners for implementing and expanding Leprosy Control and Elimination Program

The Leprosy Control Project aims at supporting the Government of India in achieving zero leprosy cases by 2030

Delhi : Ahead of World Leprosy Day, Shri Om Birla, Hon’ble Speaker of the Lok Sabha, lauded the efforts made by the Rotary Club of Delhi South (RCDS), Lepra Society of India, Lepra UK and Assets Care and Reconstruction Enterprise Ltd (ACRE) and partner Rotary Clubs in alleviating the burden of leprosy in India.

 

Since its inception in 2019, the Leprosy Control Project, has benefitted more than 1600 leprosy patients and their families, trained around 200 healthcare workers, and supported the treatment and rehabilitation of more than 600 leprosy patients in Delhi NCR. The project takes a five-step approach to tackle leprosy: create awareness, training to capacitate healthcare workers, active case finding, treatment and palliative care of patients, and rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The program, spanning 10- 12 years, will scale up in a phased manner: a pilot in Delhi/NCR (which in ongoing), expansion to leprosy endemic regions (outside Delhi), and eventually to the other states. The pilot in Delhi NCR will enable a ‘lift and shift model’ to be implemented in rest of India with no need for a learning curve.

 

In a letter to RCDS, Shri Om Birla, Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha, India wrote, “I laud the work being done by the Rotary Club of Delhi South and its partners in creating awareness around leprosy. It is important that people know that leprosy is curable. Only with this knowledge will the ostracization of patients end, allowing them to live a life of dignity and security. The work being done by Rotary and its partners in knowledge dissemination is vital and is aligned with the Governments mission of eliminating Leprosy from India by 2030. I am sure that going forward, this program will continue to grow and positively impact Leprosy patients, their families and the larger community.”

 

Mr Pradeep Bahri, CEO Rotary Club Alliance for Leprosy Control said, “In the past, Rotary has been a key driving force for polio elimination across the world. Rotary’s global network, infrastructure and learnings from polio can be utilized for leprosy control and elimination. We have realized that there is a lot of misinformation regarding leprosy, particularly with respect to its perceived incurability, which results in the exclusion of patients from organized society, making their plight even more deplorable. It is of immense importance that the right information reaches the public. To develop this understanding among the changemakers of tomorrow, create awareness among them from an early age and prevent prejudice, Rotary will also organize essay writing and painting competitions for college and school students. We are looking forward to the active and large-scale participation of India’s youth in the same.”

 

Mr. Mohd Shariq Malik, Head, Corporate Social Responsibility, Assets Care and Reconstruction Enterprise Ltd (ACRE) said, “It’s a privilege and an honour to be partnering with the Rotary Club of Delhi South and the LEPRA Society, for a second consecutive year, in tackling an issue of national importance. Our combined efforts are focused on strengthening the existing healthcare infrastructure so that it can identify, diagnose, and treat patients in a timely manner.”

 

As a part of the Leprosy Control Program, Rotary Club of Delhi South along with its partners, have installed solar panel support in two Leprosy colonies, saving families from expenditure on electricity bills. Additionally, 31 physiotherapy camps have been conducted in various Leprosy Colonies and protective/special footwear (called MCR footwear, made of microcellular rubber) has been provided. 4 training camps and have been undertaken to facilitate capacity building. Amid the pandemic, lunch support has been provided in 2 leprosy colonies all through 2020 and since August last year and Rotary has distributed blankets to families in various leprosy colonies in 2021 and 2022.

 

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a mildly infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The bacteria affect the skin, peripheral nerves, and the eyes and if left untreated can cause severe disabilities and blindness. Globally, there were 1,27,558 new leprosy cases detected globally in 2020-21, according to official figures from 139 countries from the 6 WHO Regions, out of which approximately 60% of cases account from India.

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