The Pune Cantonment Board has added another misconception to the already long list of misconceptions about leprosy. Here it is!

NEW DELHI: Leprosy is one of the world’s most misunderstood diseases. It is riddled with myths and misconceptions, evoking fear in the minds of people. These myths and misconceptions kick off an inimical chain reaction! They aggravate the stigma associated with the disease. Fearing stigmatisation, patients do not seek medical treatment. Because of this, patients develop disabilities. Also, the infection spreads.

Some of the misconceptions about leprosy are:

  • leprosy is an ancient disease that has been eradicated many years ago
  • leprosy is very contagious
  • leprosy spreads through casual contact, such as shaking hands or sitting next to someone who has the disease
  • leprosy described in ancient texts and scriptures is same leprosy we know today
  • leprosy is not curable
  • leprosy causes fingers, toes, and limbs to drop off
  • leprosy is the result of past sins or immoral behaviour
  • persons affected by leprosy, with deformities, are infectious
  • someone who has leprosy needs to be isolated

These misconceptions and stigma associated with leprosy pose challenges towards the social inclusion of persons affected by the disease and eradication of the disease.

Recently, we have come across another misconception propagated by none other than the Pune Cantonment Board, a military cantonment located in Pune, Maharashtra

It is like this: The Pune Cantonment Board has put up hoardings outside civic schools, public lavatories and cantonment offices claiming that eating out causes leprosy.

Shocked? We too are. We are shocked at the depth of ignorance about leprosy which is fast becoming a serious public health problem in India.

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