The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) headed by Justice Arun Mishra, on Monday issued a detailed advisory to the Centre, States and Union Territories calling for timely identification, treatment and elimination of discrimination against the persons affected by leprosy.
The Advisory has listed discriminating legal provisions against leprosy-affected persons in 97 laws of the country and called for their removal.
The Advisory has provided for ensuring that no person suffering from leprosy or any of his family members is discriminated against and denied all or any of the right to healthcare, employment, education and land rights.
To raise awareness about the fact that leprosy is fully curable and a person suffering from leprosy no longer remains contagious after receipt of the first dose of MDT and may lead a normal married life, can have children, can take part in social events and go to work or school/college as normal, the Commission calls to organise awareness programs by involving print and electronic media, grass-root level functionaries and civil society organisations.
The Advisory has also provided that awareness program should also highlight that persons affected by leprosy are not required to be sent to any special clinic or hospital or sanatorium and should not be isolated from the family members or the community. The same should be included in the school curriculum to enhance the sensitization among the youth of the country.
For the betterment of lives and for financial independence, the Commission has called for the launch of special programs to provide vocational training, employment benefit, unemployment benefits, parental leave, health insurance, funeral benefits etc. to the persons affected by leprosy and their family member.
Some of the important recommendations, among others listed in the Advisory, include the State Government should establish a helpline to ensure prompt reporting and medical attention to new cases of leprosy as well as the development of acute signs and symptoms of lepra reaction/new nerve function impairment in existing patients; ensuring availability of adequate stock of drugs and other accessories including the MDT drugs for treatment and management of leprosy and associated complications; making efforts to provide and expand mobile-based teleconsultation services to persons affected by leprosy.
Among other recommendations, the Advisory advised to provide due attention to ensure that persons affected by leprosy are provided with BPL card, Aadhar card, Job card and other identity proofs on priority to facilitate such persons to avail benefit of Government-run welfare schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY), MGNREGA etc;
Ir also suggested that the Union Government should consider enacting a law to provide for substitution of derogatory terms used to describe persons affected by leprosy, adding that the Chief Secretary of each leprosy-affected State/UT and Secretaries in-charge of the concerned Ministries in the Central Government should review, at regular intervals, the number of persons affected by leprosy in the State/country and the efforts made for treatment and welfare of the persons affected
The Commission, in a letter through its Secretary-General, Bimbadhar Pradhan to the Union Ministry of - and the Chief Secretaries/ Administrators of States and Union Territories, has asked for the implementation of its recommendations in the Advisory and the action taken report within three months. (ANI)