Leprosy in India

I researched a variety of topics wanting to find a topic that was both unique and that I feel should be given attention and I stumbled upon the hidden leprosy epidemic within India. It is important to note that in the last 10 years India has taken great strides to eliminate leprosy however leprosy is not completed eliminated especially in rural areas and as recently as the late 1990’s India contained 75% of the worlds leprosy cases.  Leprosy is a disease often found in the “ancient” parts of the world and the spread of leprosy in India could most likely be explained by a variety of factors. The first notable factor is the incredibly high population density found in India, allowing for higher transmission frequencies and contact. The other major factor could be the notable wealth inequality found within India. These factors of poorer and more densely packed citizenry could easily lead to much higher infectious disease rates. The world health organization (WHO) constantly establishes eradication guidelines for eradication as well as sends medical advice and help. The government of India works in conjunction with WHO and other organizations to facilitate elimination with some effectiveness.

For my Anthropologist whose research I looked at I chose Dr. Sukhbir Singh who researched the social stigma of leprosy in Chandigarh India using interviews at clinics in the area. The local residents beliefs were very interesting and you can easily see why treatment in the rural areas may be of lower quality. The majority of the residents believed that Leprosy actually results from a form of punishment or a curse from god as the consequence of misdeeds. The majority of the people also struggled with the concept of germs or bacteria causing the disease making the idea of biomedical treatment somewhat irrelevant in their eyes. The article shows me that possibly one of the best ways to treat this epidemic completely is actually education on cause transmission and treatment.


World Health Organization, “Report of the global forum on elimination of leprosy as a public health problem” Geneva, Switzerland 2006. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2006/WHO_CDS_NTD_2006.4_ eng.pdf (accessed August 9, 2013)

Human Development Report 2009, “Data show the ratio of the income or expenditure share of the richest group to that of the poorest”, UNDP, (accessed on Aug 9, 2013)

Singh, S., Sinha, A., Banerjee, B., Jaswal, N.,  “Knowledge, Beliefs and Perception of Leprosy” Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 23, feb. 2013 <http://dcidj.org/article/view/179>.  (accessed 09 Aug. 2013)

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