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Leprosy rates decline in Delhi

New Delhi: Leprosy has been eliminated from the national capital as a public health problem, Delhi Health Minister AK Walia said Thursday after a considerable drop in the prevalence rate of the disease.

The rate has declined from 4.5 cases per 10,000 population in 2001, to 0.8 cases at present, Walia said.

"As per World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, when the number of leprosy patients come down below one case per 10,000 populations, the disease is said to have been eliminated as a public health problem," he said.

"It can be said that leprosy has been eliminated from the capital city as a public health problem," he said.

In the national capital alone 1,340 patients are taking treatment for leprosy from various healthcare institutions. Apart from them 1,602 from other states and country like Nepal take treatment in Delhi hospitals.

"Many patients come to Delhi for leprosy treatment because multi-drug therapy, which is very effective against mycobacterium leprae, is available here," the minister said.

Leprosy is a disease caused by the bacteria mycobacterium leprae and it affects mainly the skin and nerves. The symptoms appear very slowly, taking on an average two to five years to manifest.

Apart from this, Delhi government is also increasing the financial aid for leprosy patients who are undergoing reconstructive surgery, so that their families can be supported better.

"The health department of the Delhi government is enhancing the amount of financial support given to leprosy patients undergoing reconstructive surgery from Rs.5,000 to Rs.8,000 from April this year," Walia said.

The minister also inaugurated a reconstructive surgery facility for correction of claw-hand and foot-drop at Guru Gobind Singh Hospital in west Delhi.