India achieved the WHO benchmark of elimination of leprosy as a public health problem in 2005 by bringing down the prevalence rate to less than one case per 10,000 population. In the decade that followed there was stagnation in number of cases on record and the number of new cases being detected per year; however the visible deformity due to Leprosy was rising. These trends indicate that large quanta of undetected cases are there in the community and transmission of the disease is continued.
Hence, in order to address the issues being faced by the programme, several innovations introduced in NLEP, India during 2016-17 i.e., implementation of three pronged strategy under NLEP i.e., i) Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (specific for high endemic districts), ii) Focussed Leprosy Campaign (for hot spots i.e., rural and urban areas where grade II disability is detected), iii) Special plan for hard to reach areas. Celebration of ‘Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign’ on Anti Leprosy Day. Chemoprophylaxis administration to contacts of new cases detected in LCDC districts, to cut the transmission chain of disease, in the community. In addition, various other initiatives introduced are publication of NLEP Newsletter, launch of Nikusth a web based reporting system for leprosy cases and ASHA based Surveillance for Leprosy Suspects (ABSULS) etc.
Today medical and communication technology advancements make a Leprosy Free India imminently achievable. The battle against leprosy will have to be a cooperative wherein concerted efforts led by the government are to be supported by different stakeholders, both new and old. To portray leprosy as a candidate disease which could be eliminated from each village of the country, to attract national and international attention, share best practices with national and international stakeholders, to discuss stigma and discrimination, to listen to people affected by leprosy, stakeholders met at Central Leprosy division and decided to organize a national level conference, from 5th to 7th December 2017 at New Delhi.
The objective of the Conference is to showcase the innovative steps taken to eliminate leprosy and explore other measures that could be taken to ensure successful achievement of the target to make India leprosy free in the next few years. The conference will be an opportunity to highlight the commitment of the Government in tackling this disease. The participants will be both National and International including the scientists, academicians, sociologists, field level worker with work experience in Leprosy, representatives from Government health system and partner organizations i.e., WHO, ILEP, APAL and NGOs, is an opportunity to share their experiences, discuss challenges & barriers and derive recommendations for the improvement of NLEP and Person Affected by Leprosy.