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World Leprosy Day – Easing Pain and Giving Hop

'The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.'
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World Leprosy Day, which falls on 31st January 2007, is a day to increase public awareness about leprosy// and to encourage the flow of funds, imperative to take the cause of leprosy eradication, forward. The central theme of every ‘World Leprosy Day’, seeks to provide cure for the disease in leprosy endemic regions, and enable the patients to lead a life of dignity. A holistic approach that ensures the smooth integration of the leprosy victims with the society forms the tenet of every World Leprosy Day.

It might be worthwhile to look at recent statistics from epidemiological surveys sponsored by the World Health Organization, published in early August 2006. The reports have portrayed the incidence of 219,826 fresh cases of leprosy each year. Further, about 602 new cases of leprosy is detected everyday. Totally, there are nearly 10 million leprosy victims in the world today.

Leprosy is rife in the poorer regions of the world. India is home to nearly 70% of the leprosy cases in the world. Next is Brazil with about 6%, then Nepal and Indonesia, both with about 2%. Bangladesh, Myanmar, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Nigeria and The Democratic Republic of Congo follow with about 1% of the world’s leprosy cases.

Leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease, is a chronic and contagious disease. The initial symptoms of the disease show up as light, painless patches on the skin; often, the lack of sensation in the area may cause the patient to completely neglect the initial symptoms. If left untreated, the infection gradually takes a toll on the skin and nerves.

As the disease advances, nerve damage along with other complication occurs. The lack of sensation in the limbs could cause wounds to worsen on the hands and feet. In later stages, deformities in the
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