The history of anti–leprosy work in India dates back to 1874 when the Mission of Lepers (now Leprosy Mission) was founded by Baily at Chamba, in the Himachal Pradesh. Since then, many voluntary organizations (now about 150) have sprung up in the cause of leprosy. Well known Gandhian Baba Amte has devoted his life to the care of leprosy patients at his ashram in Wardha.
Leprosy is a curable disease. The problems to eradicate leprosy are many
- The disease has a long incubation period and many infections are sub–clinical.
- The difficulty in making a vaccine is that the organisms are difficult to grow outside the human body.
- Since leprosy prevails in low socio–economic conditions, eradicating poverty goes hand in hand with the eradication of leprosy. It requires the political will, and good governance that is free of corruption.
- Last but not the least, the social stigma attached to leprosy makes its eradication difficult.