Ranchi: Center has picked Jharkhand to pilot its integration of mental health services for leprosy patients, an official said on Friday. For this, the two national initiatives – National Leprosy Eradication Program (NLEP) and National Mental Health Program have been integrated and a two-day workshop on ‘Integration of Mental Health Services for Leprosy Patients’ was organized here, additional director general of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Anil Kumar said.
Officers of leprosy eradication departments of 12 states took part in the workshop, he said. Speaking to media persons, Kumar said “We have picked Jharkhand for two reasons – the prevalence of high rate of leprosy in the state and the existence of the prestigious Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP) inRanchi. The program will gradually be extended to other states of the country.”
According to NLEP Jharkhand data, the state’s leprosy rate is 1.8 per cent against the national average of 0.45 per cent. A total 5,442 new cases of leprosy were detected till November last year.
In 2021-22, 4025 cases of the disease were detected, while the figure was 3450 cases in 2020-21, according to the data. Treatment completion rate of the state was 95.40 per cent in 2021-22.
Kumar said even though leprosy is totally curable, a stigma is attached to it which creates depression and anxiety among patients. “We found 33 per cent patients are suffering from depression and 19 per cent from anxiety disorder,” he said.
The department is conducting a study to understand the mental status of leprosy patients in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra, he said.
Under the integration programme, the patients will be provided counseling along with leprosy treatment. In critical cases, patients will be referred to CIP, Kumar added.