Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC) was launched by the Union Government on the occasion of Anti-Leprosy Day, on January 30, 2017. The day is celebrated in the memory of prominent Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi who got martyrdom on the same day in the year 1948, to reminisce his altruistic efforts and care for Leprosy-affected people.
Why the Campaign was needed:
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease (HD), is a chronic infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium lepromatosis or Mycobacterium leprae. It generally damages the skin and nervous system. Human-to-human transmission of the disease is the primary source of infection. Other species like monkeys, chimpanzees can also carry and transfer M. lepromatosis to humans.
WHO has said that 2,12,000 people have been affected globally by the disease in the year 2015. Almost 1,27,326 cases of leprosy were reported in India, which accounted for about 60% of the total new cases reported globally.
Leprosy is similar to tuberculosis, and is termed as a chronic granulomatous disease, because it produces granulomas, inflammatory nodules in the nerves and skin over time. India is also counted among the 22 countries across the globe that have a high transmission of and burden of leprosy, followed by Indonesia and Brazil.
Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign: Key Facts
The aim of the campaign is to promote community participation in leprosy diagnosis and treatment in its early stages and to spread awareness about the disease. The campaign seeks to move from centralized, top to down delivery-driven approach to decentralized community-based demand-driven approach, in order to fight the disease.
The main aim of the campaign is to authorize local communities to take the accountability of alerting people not to discriminate and denounce against the leprosy-affected people. It seeks to promote awareness about leprosy to help people in its early diagnosis and the right treatment.
We all know that disabilities do not occur overnight, but occur after a continued period of undiagnosed disease. Speaking about the campaign, Dr. Anil Kumar, Central Leprosy Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s Deputy Director General, said that almost 32,000 deep-rooted cases of leprosy were detected in 20 states across 163 districts during the door-to-door surveys conducted by the government in the year 2015.