The Editorial covers GS paper 2 [Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.]
- Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare wrote a letter to the Union Minister of Law and Justice and the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment seeking amendment of the existing discriminatory laws against persons affected by leprosy.
- It will be a befitting tribute to the Father of the Nation on his 150th Birth Anniversary if we can expedite the process and introduction of the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy (EDPAL) Bill, which was drafted by the Law Commission of India and annexed in its 256th Report.
What is the background?
- It is disturbing to learn that there still exist 108 discriminatory laws against persons affected by leprosy including 3 Union and 105 State laws.
- India is committed for justice and equality of all individuals including persons with disabilities as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
- The target of Global Leprosy Strategy, 2016 – 2020 is to reduce the number of countries with laws allowing discrimination on the ground of leprosy to zero.
What is Leprosy?
- Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae.
- The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes.
- Leprosy is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age.
- Leprosy is curable and early treatment averts most disabilities.
How has it been treated?
- The disease is now fully curable by Multi–Drug Therapy (MDT).
- This therapy is available free of cost at all the Government health care facilities in the country.
- The National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) has achieved enormous success in leprosy control, particularly in the last four decades.
- In addition to the routine activities, more than a dozen innovations were introduced from 2016 onwards in a phased manner to address the issues being faced by the programme.
- Majorly, Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) (specific for high endemic districts), Focussed Leprosy Campaign (for hot spots i.e., rural and urban areas), Special plan for case detection in hard to reach areas, ASHA based Surveillance for Leprosy Suspects (ABSULS) have contributed to early case detection.
- In addition, Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC) is implemented to reduce stigma against persons affected by Leprosy in the community.
- These innovations have given the much needed impetus to the programme.
- Moreover, leprosy has become fully curable”.
- A leprosy affected person after treatment does not transmit the disease agent.
- Hence, there exists no justification for the continued stigmatization of the persons affected by leprosy.
Source: The Hindu.