Evaluators make recommendations to strengthen leprosy eradication program.
India has held a mid-term evaluation of its National Leprosy Eradication Programme (2012-2017), oriented toward achieving the elimination of leprosy as a public health problem in every district by 2017.
India achieved elimination at the national level in 2005, defined as a prevalence rate of less than 1 case per 10,000 population, and has gone on to achieve leprosy elimination in all 35 states and Union Territories except Chhattisgarh and Dadra Nagar Haveli. Currently, 115 out of 640 districts have a prevalence rate of above 1.
Evaluators went to nine states, and two districts in each state, visiting health facilities and meeting with patients under treatment, persons with disability, health workers and others in compiling their findings, which were presented at a meeting in New Delhi on November 21.
They made some two-dozen recommendations. For early case detection, these included: strengthening the involvement of ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists); carrying out contact examinations on a routine basis; and coming up with a challenging and more appealing target and slogan, such as “No child with disability due to leprosy” or “Detect all cases before disability.”
For patient management, they included: instituting a viable referral system for managing reactions and complications, including disabilities; managing data on disabilities; and involving the community, including persons affected by leprosy, in key areas such as counseling.
For program management, meanwhile, listed among the recommendations were: implementing a results-based plan at district and state levels with the participation of other government sectors and other public health programs to improve effectiveness and optimize resources; strengthening technical support at state and district level; and carrying out periodic independent monitoring exercises.
The evaluators also noted a need to strengthen political commitment at state level, for additional human resources at the health ministry’s Central Leprosy Division and for vacant positions in states to be filled out of Government of India funds.
The 10th Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy will be launched in Tokyo on January 27, 2015. Global Appeal 2015 is being endorsed by the International Council of Nurses and its member national nursing associations. The launching ceremony will be followed by an international symposium on leprosy featuring sessions on nursing and medical care, history preservation, and societal responses to the disease, now and in the future.