Leprosy- a curable disease Not a stigma for life
Leprosy- A Curable Disease; Not Stigma for Life
The physical deformities that result from leprosy make it virtually impossible for those suffering from this disease, in its advanced stage, to keep their affliction hidden. There are a number of diseases that visibly manifest themselves, yet none prompts frantic attempts to hide the disease as much as leprosy does. Why? The reason is simple- the social stigma attached to this affliction is such that the person affected by leprosy is even at risk of being ostracized by society. Sadly, the fear of being rejected by his family and fellow humans is the reason many leprosy patients fail to get treatment in time. They hesitate to discuss their symptoms with local health workers or physicians fearing that the news of their condition may spread in the neighbourhood and community.
Many falselybelieve that leprosy is completely incurable, that it transmits even via a single touch, and they believe that leprosy afflicted should be kept away The combination of half truths and completely baseless superstitions have served to make leprosy seem far more terrifying and dangerous that it actually is. The reality, supported by decades of medical research, are as follows:
Myth: Leprosy is the manifestation of divine wrath.
Truth:Leprosy is caused by theMycobacterium leprae bacteria. Other diseases that can traced back to bacillus include ear infections, food poisoning, urinary tract infection etc. We deal with the latter diseases simply and easily without any sense of panic, so why the terror and fear associated with another bacillus induced disease- leprosy?
Myth- Leprosy cannot be cured at any stage.
Truth– Leprosy CAN be cured completely; and it can be cured even before ANY visible, physical signs of the disease make an appearance. In India, we now have the Multi Drug Therapy treatment which is used world over to control and eliminate this disease. The treatment is provided for FREE, making it accessible for everyone irrespective of financial status.
Myth- You can ‘catch’ leprosy instantly if an affected person touches you.
Truth-Absolutely NOT! According to leprosy.org, the disease is transmitted by being close to the untreated affected person when they are coughing or sneezing. The bacteria are released into the air and if a person in the vicinity of not more than 5 meters breathes them in, they MAY be at risk. However, the fact is that only 1 in 100000 people develop any signs of the disease, and almost 95% of the population is immune to the bacteria. The risk of contracting leprosy from an affected person in high only for those with compromised immunity.
Myth: Leprosy patients who have just started treatment can still transmit the disease
Truth:As soon as the treatment (MDT) is started, most of the bacteria are destroyed within few days. Within one week of starting treatment there is absolutely no risk that the patient can transmit the disease to anyone else, even family members who spend all day with them in closed quarters.
Know the facts about the disease and you can understand why there is no need to view leprosy afflicted people with fear or to avoid them. Spread the knowledge and help get rid of the social stigma that is unfairly and unnecessarily attached to this disease.
Authored by Bharathi. V for GLRA, Chennai