The first Leprosy vaccine named “ Mycobacterium Indicus Pranii” (MIP) was made in India and is all set for trials on a pilot basis in Bihar and Gujarat. If the vaccine shows good results, similar vaccine programs will be extended to other parts of the country where the disease is highly prevalent said Soumya Swaminathan, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research
“It is the first vaccine for leprosy, and India will be the first to have a large-scale vaccination programme. Trials have shown that if the vaccine is given to people in close contact with the affected, cases can be brought down by 60% in three years. It expedites cure rate if given to people with skin lesions,” she said.
The pioneering work in the development of the vaccine is done by National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, and has been by approved by Drug Controller General of India and the FDA in the U.S.
Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy is spread through contact with fluids from the nose or respiratory tract of infected persons. Though it is not highly contagious, people close to the infected persons need to be vaccinated. The diseases affect more than 1.25 lakhs of people annually across the country.
Union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said that “the government has begun screening in 50 most prevalent districts of the country. Among 7.5 Crore people tested for the disease about 5000 people were confirmed to have leprosy. The next phase will cover 163 endemic districts including Erode.”
“We don’t want to leave any person. Those diagnosed will be given treatment. Those living in close contact will be given a dose of antibiotic Rifampicin,” the minister added.
The statement from the Health Minister and Soumya Swaminathan came during National Awareness Convention on Leprosy organised here by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai, and Saksham, Nagpur.