Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Health Ministry announces new treatment regimen for Leprosy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New Leprosy Treatment Regimen

Mains level : Read the attached story

Leprosy

Introduction

  • The Central government of India has given its approval for a new treatment regimen aimed at hastening the eradication of leprosy in the country.
  • The move, based on the latest global scientific research and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), seeks to transition from a two-drug regimen to a three-drug regimen for Pauci-Bacillary (PB) leprosy cases.

New Leprosy Treatment Regimen

  • Objective: The primary goal is to halt the transmission of leprosy at the sub-national level by 2027, aligning with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, three years ahead of schedule.
  • Transition from Two to Three Drugs: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has approved a shift from the existing two-drug regimen for six months to a three-drug regimen for Pauci-Bacillary (PB) cases.
  • Scientific Basis: This decision is grounded in the latest globally accepted scientific research studies and evidence-based practices.
  • WHO Endorsement: The World Health Organization (WHO) has committed to supply the revised drug regimen starting April 1, 2025, signifying international recognition and support for this approach.

Key Implementation Steps

  • Three-Drug Regimen: The WHO-recommended treatment regimen includes dapsone, rifampicin, and clofazimine, collectively referred to as MDT. MDT is highly effective in killing the pathogen and curing the patient.
  • Advance Requisitions: All States and Union Territories are instructed to submit their requisitions for anti-leprosy drugs a full year in advance to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Unified Implementation Date: The revised classification of leprosy and the treatment regimen for both Pauci-Bacillary (PB) and multi-bacillary (MB) cases in India will come into effect simultaneously on April 1, 2025.

Understanding Leprosy

  • Leprosy Overview: Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by the Mycobacterium leprae bacteria, primarily affecting the skin and peripheral nerves.
  • Transmission: It spreads through droplets from the nose and mouth during close contact with untreated cases.
  • Curability: Leprosy is curable with multi-drug therapy (MDT).

Distinction between PB and MB Cases

  • PB Cases: These individuals have fewer visible bacteria and show no signs of advanced disease in biopsies.
  • MB Cases: They have visible bacteria and may exhibit more advanced disease in biopsies.

Significance of the New Regimen

  • Eradication Target: The adoption of this new treatment regimen is expected to accelerate India’s progress towards leprosy eradication by 2027, reinforcing the country’s commitment to combat this disease.
  • Previous Funding: The WHO has been providing free MDT, initially funded by the Nippon Foundation and later through an agreement with Novartis. This regimen is known as ‘Uniform MDT,’ simplifying administration and manufacturing processes.

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