Leprosy is one of the oldest disease that still continues to be of serious concern not only because of the number of people affected by it and their potential for communicating the disease to others, but also because of the long-term morbidity in a significant proportion of patients caused by neuropathy. The loss of sensation and chronic ulcers are the root cause of the stigma attached to this disease and there is no specific treatment available in modern medicine.
Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) is a combination of three medicines—rifampicin and dapsone and clofazimine for paucibacillary disease or with rifampicin, dapsone and clofazimine for patients with multibacillary disease. WHO has introduced a classification that uses the number of skin lesions to classify disease as paucibacillary (up to five lesions) or multibacillary (more than five skin lesions). After completion of MDT for 6 month in paucibacillary (PB) leprosy and one year in MB leprosy, clinically most of the patients do not feel cured because of the existence of their lesion for a long time.
Although in 2005, India attained elimination figure of prevalence rate less than 1 per 10,000 population but different studies show that the new case detection rates are on the rise. Now it is realised that leprosy was not eliminated and transmission continued and 30 per cent of the newly diagnosed cases are children. As per available data 58.85 per cent of new leprosy cases in the world are reported in India. It has been seen that 60 per cent patients have peripheral nerve damage at the time of diagnosis, which require treatment with steroid lasting several months. Long-term morbidity after MDT possesses major problem. The level of nerve damage in leprosy is high with up to 60 per cent patients having clinically apparent nerve damage at the time of diagnosis; 30 per cent of patients may develop further nerve damage during treatment and 10 per cent may develop new nerve damage after or during MDT. Unless the associated problem caused by nerve damage is addressed properly the vision of eradication of leprosy remains unrealistic.
To overcome the root cause of stigma, different clinical researches in Homoeopathic system of medicine were undertaken by Society for Welfare of the Handicapped Persons under the leadership of Dhruba Chakraborty, a Homoeopathy doctor by profession. The researchers identified two homoeopathic medicines—Sulphur and Merc.sol—to be effective to treat paucibacillary and multibacillary disease respectively. These have the potential to reverse the loss of sensation and loss of normal skin colour of the lesion in addition to their bactericidal action by up regulation of the immune status of the patient. The research on a large number of leprosy cured persons, who have been released from MDT and are suffering from chronic ulcers peripheral anesthesia in their hands and feet demonstrated that the same medicine can reverse the loss of sensation also. Apart from the clinical evaluation, the biopsy study showed that this medicine has got potential to reverse degenerative changes of nerve cells. This feat has been presented in different international fora. Chakraborty attended 19th International Leprosy Congress recently held in China.
A large number of leprosy affected persons are given free treatment in different states of India. The research organisation has been recognised as a Centre for Excellence for Prevention of Disability by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
It has also approached GoI to adopt Homoeopathy for prevention of disability (POD) in leprosy affected persons towards successful eradication of the disease.