Where Leprosy Lingers

Left untreated, leprosy begins with discolored numb patches on the skin and eventually leaves people permanently disabled.

Globally, the scourge of leprosy has largely subsided, but India still picks up over 100,000 new cases every year.

Eliminating the disease means much more than tackling symptomatic cases—but that’s where India went wrong, in 2005 prematurely declaring victory over leprosy and redirecting resources while it continued to spread unnoticed. The mysterious disease can take 20 years to show symptoms.

When symptoms appear they bring intense social stigma. India's discriminatory laws were only overruled in September under pressure from the nonprofit Lepra, which aims to make leprosy “a disease of no consequence, which is what it should be,” says its chief Ashim Chowla.

The New York Times

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