Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Medical notes 
Background Briefings 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 16:43 GMT
India targets leprosy

leprosy patients Leprosy is now curable but millions still suffer


By Mike Wooldridge in Delhi

What is being described as the world's biggest ever media campaign against leprosy has been launched in India.

It aims to dispel myths surrounding the disease and speed up its eradication.

India has more than 60% of the world's leprosy patients.

The campaign involves the Indian government, the state broadcasting networks, and the BBC, through its NGO arm, the BBC World Service Trust.

Oldest known disease

Leprosy is the oldest known disease. It is completely curable now, thanks to the multi-drug therapy introduced in the 1980s. If caught and treated early enough, it is not disfiguring.

However, as speakers pointed out at the launch of this campaign, leprosy has a potent symbolism about it.


hands of patient Leprosy patients have been shunned by society
Historically it has been associated with rejection, with untouchability.

Mahatma Gandhi famously sought to reverse the image. But the campaign revolves around the belief that there is still considerable prejudice towards leprosy sufferers.

India has 85% of the world's cured leprosy patients, but a rising number of cases are coming to light, many of them hidden until now.

India has set its own target for eradication as 2003 - two years ahead of the current global target.

Eradication strategy

The new strategy uses advertising spots that will be broadcast on radio and TV and which particularly seek to challenge the continuing myths about leprosy and the stigma surrounding it.

Other countries still to eliminate leprosy
Brazil
Indonesia
Burma
Mozambique
Ethiopia
Madagascar


To help capture the public's imagination, they involve personalities such as the cricketers, Sachin Tendulkar, and Saurav Ganguly, a badminton player, a computer operator and a housewife who have all had and been cured of leprosy.

The states being particularly targeted are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.

Other countries still to eliminate leprosy include Brazil, Indonesia, Burma, Mozambique, Madagascar and Ethiopia.
Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

See also:
07 Sep 98 |  Medical notes
Leprosy: The facts
15 Oct 98 |  Health
BBC combats leprosy
15 Nov 99 |  Health
Drive to eradicate leprosy
27 Nov 98 |  International
50 years of the WHO - its successes and failures

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories