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The Uttar Pradesh to introduce new drug regimen for leprosy

IANS Jan 31, 2024

The Uttar Pradesh health department, in compliance with the Union ministry’s directives, is set to introduce a new drug regimen for paucibacillary (PB) leprosy, officials said on World Leprosy Eradication Day.

This is an attempt to eradicate leprosy by 2027, three years ahead of the United Nations target.

State leprosy officer, Dr Jaya Dehalvi said that the bacteria causing leprosy, mycobacterium leprae, grows slowly, and symptoms can take years to appear. Early diagnosis and effective treatment are crucial for eradication.

“Replacing the existing two-drug regimen for six months, the new approach aims to halt leprosy transmission at the sub-national level by 2027,” she added.

Despite identifying 10,000 new cases in the state last year, including 161 in Lucknow, the prevalence rate of leprosy in UP is one case in every 20,000 population.

Dr Dehalvi said that leprosy has two main forms: paucibacillary (PB) and multibacillary (MB). PB, the less severe form, presents with a few patches on the skin, limited nerve damage and a low bacterial load, making transmission rarer.

In contrast, MB exhibits widespread skin lesions, extensive nerve involvement and a high bacterial burden, increasing the risk of transmission.

“The new drug regimen, set to roll out in April 2025, focuses on reducing the treatment duration for PB cases,” she added.

Dr Dehalvi reiterated that leprosy is not a highly contagious droplet infection — that is spread from one person to another by droplets of moisture released — and with early intervention, can be completely cured.

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