There are various diseases in the world that we as humans strive to prevent, fight against and ultimately eliminate from the face of the earth. But as Indians, there is perhaps no disease as significant to our country and our population as leprosy.
That is because scientific evidence shows that this disease has roots in India’s ancient history and a majority of leprosy cases continue to be found in India to this day. Moreover, there has also been historic discrimination against people suffering from leprosy in our country.
However, with time, efforts have been made to bust the myths and remove the stigma surrounding this disease. Moreover, with modern advances in medical treatment, leprosy has been proven to be not only preventable but also to a certain degree, curable.
Modern medicine holds the key to helping only leprosy but also a variety of illnesses. Which is why if you ever find yourself in need of financial assistance to meet medical needs, look no further than the medical loan at Finserv MARKETS. With its fast online processing and minimal paperwork, you can avail a personal loan for any medical situation in no time.
Now, let us find out more about the disease that is closely tied to our history – leprosy. Moreover, this World Leprosy Day, let us pledge to spread the word about this illness and help contribute to the cause in our own way.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease is essentially a form of bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It is slow-growing in nature and the symptoms of the disease can take as long as 5 to 20 years to appear. The infection can damage a person’s nerves and cause complications such as rashes, sensory loss, poor eyesight and weakness.
While bacterial in nature, leprosy is not as infectious as it has been widely believed to be. However, due to ignorance and a general lack of information, people with leprosy have been discriminated against since ancient times.
Leprosy is generally believed to have originated in India and the evidence for this can also be found in various historical texts from the time, such as the Atharva Veda. At the time, it was erroneously believed that people were afflicted by the disease due to moral causes. Moreover, since the disease often resulted in disfigurement of the body, people were afraid to approach those infected with leprosy.
As a result, individuals with leprosy were often discriminated against and alienated from society and. Also, due to wrongful fears of getting infected, they were also forced to be secluded and isolated.
Those diagnosed with leprosy have faced discrimination in every walk of life. They are often socially and economically marginalised, and subjected to familial displacement and divorce. Although steps have actively been taken to reduce stigma and discrimination, there’s still a long way to go. In a recent study, it was revealed that 6% of the sample had very little knowledge about the cause of leprosy. A significant portion of the sample thought it was the result of ‘wrong-doings’ on the part of the patient.
Those who contract leprosy are more susceptible to mental health disorders, largely as a result of the stigma they face. Those subjected to all kinds of discrimination are caught in a vicious cycle. The stigma leads to depression and the loss of will to cure their disease, which only serves to worsen their condition. An even more worrying fact is that women are more prone to this stigma, and consequently, to developing mental health issues.
Over the years, however, as we found out more information about the disease, active efforts were taken to uplift victims suffering from leprosy. In 1955, India created the National Leprosy Control Program to examine the disease .
As the medication for the disease began to be developed widely, it was changed to the National Leprosy Elimination Program (NLEP)in 1983 . Today, it is one of the largest leprosy eradication programs in the world and has led to a substantial decline in the occurrence of the disease in the country.
Moreover, World Leprosy Day was established in 1954 and is observed every year on the last Sunday of January . With the World Leprosy Day initiative, awareness about the disease has successfully spread across the world. It also seeks to shed light on the discrimination and stigma faced by people with leprosy to this day.
Source: National Leprosy Eradication Programme
While once considered incurable, leprosy can be successfully treated today with a combination of drugs, which is known as Multidrug therapy (MDT). The dosage and combination of these drugs is based on the type of leprosy an individual is afflicted with. This medical treatment was first created by the WHO in 1984, and since 1995, the organisation has distributed free medication to affected countries, including India. 
As the stigma still associated with the disease comes to light, it is becoming a widely held belief that the right approach to treatment would also include mental health therapy. Since mental health disorders and the disease go hand in hand, mental health treatment should supplement actual treatment of the disease.
Often, the right medical treatment becomes the crucial difference between lifelong suffering and a healthy future. While finances can sometimes become an obstacle to overcome, there is no medical need that cannot be fulfilled by a reliable medical loan.
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