Mangaluru, Jan 30: 'World Leprosy Day' is observed (internationally) everyear on the last Sunday of January, to increase awareness on the disease and call for an end to the associated stigma and discrimination. In India, it is observed on the January 30, coinciding with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in remembrance of his selfless care for people affected by leprosy.
The theme of World Leprosy Day 2023 is “Act Now End Leprosy.” In India, since 2017, the Sparsh Leprosy awareness campaign is being observed every year and this year the theme is “Lets fight leprosy and make leprosy a history.”
This year is the 150th anniversary of the discovery of M Leprae, the causative bacteria of leprosy and 70th anniversary of World Leprosy Day.
The department of dermatology in association with St Joseph Leprosy Hospital, a unit of Father Muller Charitable Institutions (FMCI) has been observing World Leprosy Day every year by conducting health awareness talks and leprosy detection camps.
Dr Sudarshan C M, district leprosy officer, was the chief guest for the programme, presided over by director FMCI Fr Richard Aloysius Coelho.
Dr Sudarshan C M, district leprosy officer, reminisced the fact that his own aunt who was a widow had to suffer the stigma of the disease. It was a terrible state for her when she had to dwell in a spate hut with kins talking only from a distance and provisions given only late in the evening. This was only 40 years ago. Public are not so stigmatized if they have polio, HIV or even TB but they discriminate the leprosy affected. The yeoman service provided by the Father Muller Charitable Institutions from its founder Fr Augustus Muller in eradication of the disease is commendable.
This institution is the one that imbibes most of the government schemes and programmes and implements them in a methodological manner, which was seen during the COVID pandemic.
Fr Richard, in his address, highlighted the dermatology department's efforts in creating awareness of the disease, where even now 4-5 cases are seen in the district, even among children. "The Bible carries the tales of the leper where they too were shunned from society and left to live in misery. The institution's growth has been as the succour for the suffering poor and has still retained the tag as the ‘poor man’s hospital’."
The Government of India and Karnataka have implemented many schemes and programmes for the health of its citizens and the Father Muller Charitable Institutions was ever willing to be the implementer. With over 140 patients suffering from leprosy during the visit of the former CM of Karnataka Bangarapa, his immediate sanctioning of the DM Dermatology seeing the tremendous faith of the public in the hospital made the Institutions to be the first to get a master’s programme (Post Graduate) even before the Undergraduate programme. The first of this Masters programme graduates was Dr Nanda Kishore who now himself has become a legend in Leprosy treatment. Dr Derick, Dr Jerome Pinto and the later heads efforts saw to it the disease limits itself and cure is provided faster.
The talk on “Management of Lepra Reactions" was delivered by professor Nanda Kishore B; former head of the department of dermatology FMMC and now a consultant dermatologist. He has four decades of experience in the field of Leprosy. He has rendered his selfless service at the St Joseph Leprosy Hospital for a total of 42 long years. Dr Nanda Kishore B was trained in reconstructive surgeries at SLR & T Centre Karigiri, Tamil Nadu, under E P Fritschie. He is the recipient of Best Medical Officer in Leprosy award in 2002, D K Zilla Kannada Rajyotsava Award in the year 2017 for the service in medical field.
Fr Ajith B Menezes, administrator, FMMC; Dr Antony Sylvan D, dean, FMMC; Fr Nelson Dheeraj Pais, Fr George Jeevan Sequeira, Fr Rohan Dias, assistant administrators of the hospital, Dr Uday Kumar, medical superintendent, Dr Derek Lobo governing board member FMCI, Sr Jacintha D'Souza, principal, college of nursing, Sr Dhanya, CNO, Dr Ramesh Bhat M, vice dean, Dr Kishan Shetty, deputy MS; Dr Kelvin Pais, liasion officer were present.
The welcome address was delivered by Dr Jacintha Martis, HoD, depaertment of dermataology, vote of thanks by Dr Prajna Shetty and the event was compered by Dr Ramith P Shetty and Dr Gayathri Santhosh.