NHRC issues a detailed Advisory to the Centre, States and UTs seeking overall welfare of leprosy affected persons to bring them into mainstream society with concerted efforts

New Delhi, 17th January, 2022

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India, headed by Mr Justice Arun Mishra, has issued a detailed Advisory to the Centre, States and Union Territories calling for timely identification, treatment and for elimination of discrimination against the persons affected by leprosy. The Advisory has listed discriminating legal provisions against the 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 the leprosy no longer remains contagious after receipt of 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 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 a 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 in the Advisory, are as follows:

· State Government should establish a helpline to ensure prompt reporting and medical attention to new cases of leprosy as well as development of acute signs and symptoms of lepra reaction/new nerve function impairment in existing patients;

· Ensure availability of adequate stock of drugs and other accessories including the MDT drugs for treatment and management of leprosy and associated complications;

· Make efforts to provide and expand mobile based tele-consultation services to persons affected by leprosy;

· 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;

· The Union Government should consider enacting a Law to provide for substitution of derogatory terms used to describe persons affected by leprosy;

· 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, Mr. 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.

The detailed Advisory can be seen at the website from the link Click here