Back to search

Epidemiological scenario of leprosy in marginalized communities of India: Focus on scheduled tribes


The Scheduled Tribes (STs) are designated among the most disadvantaged social groups in India. Until the year 2005 (pre-elimination era of leprosy in India), several leprosy-specific control field programmes were implemented, which have been discontinued subsequently. Since then, leprosy diagnosis and treatment have been integrated with General Health Services. Thereafter, specialized expertise for the early diagnosis of leprosy has been gradually diminishing, especially at the peripheral clinics in remote areas. Hence, leprosy cases usually remain undetected for a long time and persist as endemic reservoirs. The tribal population of India accounts for just 8.6 per cent of the overall population. However, 18.5 per cent of the new leprosy cases were detected within the tribal community in the year 2020, indicating a disproportionately high burden of leprosy among the tribal population. Recent data suggest that these health disparities can be mainly related to the increased marginalization of STs as compared to other communities. This shows the need to further explore the current situation of leprosy in STs so that suitable interventions can address the contributing factors, leading to health inequalities in disadvantaged socio-economic groups. Therefore, this review aims to present the current distribution of leprosy in marginalized communities with a special emphasis on STs. Further, this review discusses how resources might be mobilized for such communities to find and treat undetected leprosy patients in STs to enable effective control of leprosy through early detection and timely treatment.

More information

Journal Article
Singh P
Sharma M