Harsh Vardhan calls for change in discriminatory laws against leprosy patients

Harsh Vardhan calls for change in discriminatory laws against leprosy patients
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday wrote to Chief Ministers of 23 states and UTs, and to the Union ministers of law and justice and social justice and empowerment, asking for discriminatory laws against leprosy patients to be amended expeditiously.

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, Vardhan wrote in his letter.

All states except Chhattisgarh and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli have eliminated leprosy. In March 2016, 551 of the 669 districts in the country had a prevalence of less than one per 100,000 population, which is defined by WHO as elimination.

Even though the disease is now fully curable, it is disturbing to learn that there still exist 108 discriminatory laws against persons affected by leprosy, including 3 Union and 105 State laws, he pointed out.

He added that the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) has achieved enormous success in leprosy control, particularly in the last four decades. In addition to routine activities, more than a dozen innovations were introduced from 2016 onwards, in a phased manner, to address issues being faced by the programme…Moreover, leprosy has become fully curable by Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT). This therapy is available free of cost at all Government health care facilities, the letter said.

A leprosy-affected person, after treatment, does not transmit the disease agent. Hence, there exists no justification for the continued stigmatisation, he said.

AB-PMJAY saved Rs 12,000 crore for beneficiaries since launch: Health Minister

The Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana has saved Rs 12,000 crore for beneficiary families since its launch, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday after chairing a review meeting of the programme.

PMJAY completes one year on September 23.

I am pleased to know that more than 39 lakh people have availed cashless treatment worth over Rs 6,100 crore for serious illnesses since the launch of AB-PMJAY. This has resulted in savings of Rs 12,000 crore to the beneficiary families, the Health Minister said. PMJAY is the tertiary care arm of Ayushman Bharat, the flagship health programme of the NDA government under which 10.74 crore families are entitled to an annual health cover of Rs 5 lakh.

At the review meeting, Dr Harsh Vardhan also launched the newly-designed grievance management portal of AB-PMJAY.