Mangaluru: “World Leprosy Day” is observed (internationally) every year on the last Sunday of January, to increase awareness of Leprosy and call for an end to Leprosy-related stigma and discrimination. In India it is observed on the 30th of January, 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 Sparsh Leprosy awareness campaign being observed every year and this year the theme is “Let’s 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 the 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 & leprosy detection camps. Dr Sudarshan C M District Leprosy Officer, was the chief guest for the programme, presided over by Director FMCI Rev. 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 and it was a treble state that 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 against the leprosy patient.
The yeoman service provided by the Father Muller Charitable Institutions from its founder Rev. 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 fashion, which was seen during the COVID pandemic.
Fr Richard in his address highlighted the dermatology departments 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 lepers where they too were shunned from society and left to dwell in their misery. The Institutions 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 the Government of Karnataka have implemented many schemes and programmes for 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 Shri 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’s programme was Dr Nanda Kishore who now 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 the cure is faster.
The talk was delivered by Professor Nanda Kishore B; former Head of the department of dermatology FMMC and now a consultant dermatologist. He has four decades in the field of Leprosy (and delivered lectures on “Management of Lepra Reactions). He has rendered his selfless service at the St Joseph leprosy Hospital for a total of 42 years. Dr Nanda Kishore B was trained in Reconstructive surgeries at SLR & T Centre Karigiri, Tamilnadu, 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.
Rev. Fr Ajith B Menezes, Administrator FMMC; Dean FMMC Dr Antony Sylvan D; Rev. Fr Nelson Dheeraj Pais, Rev. Fr George Jeevan Sequeira, Rev. 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, Liaison Officer were present.
The welcome was delivered by Dr Jacintha Martis, HOD Dept of Dermataology, Vote of thanks by Dr Prajna Shetty and the event was compeered by Dr Ramith P Shetty and Dr Gayathri Santhosh.