Leprosy Mailing List, December 19th, 2008
Ref.: Park's Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine-19th Edition, 2007
From: Pannikar V.,
Dear Mr Bhanot,
I wish to bring to you’re an extremely disturbing reference made in this textbook which is widely respected and used by all young medical professionals for learning public health practices.
The offending text is on page 390 under the Chapter 8- Demography and Family Planning – subsection- Family Planning – item b.-foetal health, which states _ “the quality of population can be improved only by avoiding completely unwanted births, compulsory sterilization of all the adults who are suffering from certain diseases such as leprosy and psychosis.”
Similarly on page 277 under leprosy Control and item –Others it states that “preventing contact with infectious cases and fomites is an accepted methods for controlling the spread for any communicable disease, and leprosy is no exception.”
Such statements made at a time when programmes are trying to reduce stigma and discrimination against people suffering from leprosy and mental ill health. I consider this as a gross violation of basic human rights and against human dignity. The way the subject matte has been dealt with displays a total lack of understanding of leprosy and its control. Such statement in reputed textbooks of medicine would have disastrous consequences on management and control of communicable diseases in generally and leprosy control in particular in
In the same textbook on page 268– under Chapter 5 Epidemiology of communicable diseases, section V – Surface Infections., under the heading – Leprosy, item – social pathology which states that “Over the centuries, a legend has grown around leprosy that it is highly contagious and that it is incurable. Even today, in spite of scientific information available about leprosy, this legend is deeply rooted in the minds of most people at all levels of society, with the result that social ostracism is apparent everywhere.”
Under the same heading on page 277, under Health education, under item General Public it states “the public should be made aware that leprosy is not a hereditary disease; it’s a bacterial disease like tuberculosis; it is curable; not all leprosy patients are infectious; regular and adequate treatment is essential to obtain cure and prevent disabilities, and that the patient needs sympathy and social support.”
I urge you to take immediate steps to remove the disparaging references from your textbook as a responsible publisher.
Thanking you in advance for considering the request.
Dr V. Pannikar
Global Leprosy Programme
World Health Organization