In recent months, we have heard a lot about contact tracing with infected people. Both in the current epidemic and in the leprosy world, this is a key issue.
Covid-19 is a dangerous and rapidly spreading virus that can be easily contracted through contact with infected people. Time is therefore of the essence. South Korea is a world leader in tracking affected people. They have developed a phone app that immediately alerts if someone is near an infected person. So they can immediately get themselves tested and go for voluntary karate. These steps are very important in the spread of the virus.
Unlike Covid-19, leprosy is a mildly contagious disease. About 95% of the world's population is immune to it, and only a small number of those who are infected will infect others. Once a person starts taking the combined medication, their body is "cleansed" within 72 hours.
People who live in an environment with untreated, infectious leprosy will be affected. Therefore, after each diagnosis, we map the patient's entire environment and screen them for leprosy. Our current knowledge is that on average 13 people per 1000 households are infected with leprosy.
It is very necessary to teach people in vulnerable circles the tell-tale signs of leprosy so that they can monitor themselves and their environment and check regularly. We need to explain to them that they should contact the nearest health facility for help at any small sign.
Leprosy is not spreading as fast as Covid-19. However, it is still spreading in Asia, Africa and South America. It continues to destroy lives, so we must fight it. Governments have a major role to play in this, as do the health sector and NGOs. We need to extend the network of screening and contact tracing as widely as possible, so that we can eradicate this terrible disease from the face of the earth as quickly as possible.