Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to humankind, which has afflicted mankind since civilization itself. It is thought to have originated in East Africa or South Asia in the Late Pleistocene and migrated to the sub continent around 2000 BC.
Leprosy Eradication day is observed annually on January 30, in order to increase public awareness of the fact that leprosy can now be prevented, cured and eradicated. We cannot deny this fact that even though the field of medical science has made many advances in recent times but leprosy is still a heinous cause of death. What we can try is to aim for eliminating the disease, by developing intervention strategies to reduce the transmission of the disease to new cases. But with leprosy, even that is a little tricky as the exact mode of transmission of the disease is still debatable. It is sad that medical science still does not have a clearcut answer to tackle this century long old disease. However, access to medicines is only half of the challenge in eliminating leprosy but the main part we can play in eradicating such a dreadful disease is to take innovative approaches to overcoming barriers such as stigma and delayed diagnosis against this disease.
Some of the major factors that stop the stigma to subside are :
· Lack of awareness
· Socio-cultural beliefs
· Various rules that are set for people suffering from leprosy that are always against them.
FACTS ABOUT THE DISEASE
Whenever we talk about leprosy, the name of Dr Ruth Pfau, who was a gem of a person, a doctor and an inspiration for all, comes to our mind. She has spent five and a half decades tirelessly for eradicating and treating leprosy in Pakistan.
On behalf of the team of National Academy of Young Scientists (NAYS) Pakistan, it is our responsibility to help leprosy patients to get the necessary treatment as leprosy is a curable disability and can be prevented if detected at its early stage. It is our duty to take a step forward towards eradication or the wellbeing of people suffering from this disease. We should aim at giving a new life to those people and try to make them happy by giving any small gesture in our capacities. Our small gestures can make a huge difference in their life. Let’s work together to end discrimination, stigma, and prejudice surrounding Leprosy and give a voice for all those affected by it around the world.
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Article: Sundeela Fayyaz