States need to repeal laws discriminating against leprosy-affected persons: NHRC Chairperson

·3-min read
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Reprsentative image

New Delhi [India], July 20 (ANI): Justice A K Mishra, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, India on Tuesday said that the States need to repeal the laws and various provisions, which are discriminating against the leprosy-affected persons.

These need to be replaced by the policies and frameworks that will protect their human rights, read a release by the NHRC.

Justice Mishra was chairing a meeting organised by the Commission to discuss the issues related to the persons affected with leprosy. He said that concerted efforts need to be made to sensitize and create necessary awareness among different stakeholders that leprosy is not a very contagious disease and that the people affected with it can be cured and can be integrated into the main-stream and co-habited with their families.

Expressing serious concern over the poor living conditions of the colonies of leprosy-affected persons, the NHRC Chairperson said that some drastic and concrete measures are required to be taken to ensure that the schemes and the funds meant for the welfare of leprosy-affected persons and their colonies are implemented with all earnest and earmarked funds are utilised properly.

He said that the Civil Society and NGOs also need to work more sincerely to ameliorate the cause of leprosy-affected persons and to integrate their colonies with the mainstream of society. Concerted efforts also need to be made to convince leprosy-affected persons to go back to their homes, the release said.

The meeting was attended by NHRC Members Justice M M Kumar and Rajiv Jain, Secretary-General, Bimbadhar Pradhan, Additional Secretary, R K Khandelwal, experts Vineeta Shanker, former Executive Director of Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation and Nikita Sarah of Leprosy Mission India, among others.

"During the discussions, it was strongly felt that besides several problems notwithstanding, the COVID-19 pandemic further worsened the condition of leprosy-affected persons, particularly with regards to their food and livelihood," read the release.

Some of the other important suggestions that emerged during the discussions include States need to conduct a study to know how many leprosy cases are being reported every year to understand whether the disease is declining or increasing in the country.

It also emphasised on the need for States to conduct a study to know the number of colonies of leprosy-affected persons and the number of people living there.

"States need to appoint a nodal welfare officer to act as a bridge between the State machinery and the colonies of leprosy-affected persons to help them get benefits of the Government schemes; Focus on the education and counselling of the children of leprosy affected people to overcome the stigma and help them integrate with the mainstream of the society; Ensure that sanitation, water, electricity and other basic amenities including healthcare, financial assistance is provided to the leprosy-affected people living in the separate colonies; Provide them skills for their socio-economic empowerment to earn sustainable livelihoods with dignity; and States need to set-up a system of monitoring of funds given to NGOs working for the welfare of leprosy-affected persons to ensure proper utilisation of funds," read the suggestions as per the NHRC release. (ANI)

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