Leprosy cases in the country has come down from 42 per one lakh population to only seven in the last decade but fresh cases continue to be reported, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said. In a written reply to a question on new cases of leprosy in the Lok Sabha, the Health Minister said even though the numbers were coming down, India will continue to have new cases of leprosy for many more years, considering the very long incubation period of the disease. He said the government continued to accord high priority to elimination of leprosy within the overall framework of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Leprosy diagnosis and treatment services have been integrated into general healthcare system and village-level functionaries like ASHAs and Anganwadi workers are involved in bringing leprosy suspects to the health care system for their detection and proper treatment. Azad said government is advocating a district-specific approach for elimination of leprosy, which will be further strengthened during the 12th Plan period. Citing the World Health Organisation report published in August 2010, Azad said India accounted for about 55 percent of new leprosy cases in the world — reporting 133,717 cases out of total 244,796 cases. Azad said that from reporting 1, 34,184 cases in 2008-09, the new cases of leprosy patients had come down to 1, 26,800 in 2010-11 and 34,846 were reported during the current year till June 20 this year. Azad also said the maximum numbers of 25,509 fresh cases were reported from Uttar Pradesh during 2010-11, followed by Bihar with 20,547 fresh cases.

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