April 17, 2015

Odisha Channel Bureau New Delhi, April 17:  Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission Justice K.G.Balakrishnan today made an appeal that corporate houses should come forward and adopt colonies of persons affected with leprosy as part of their philanthropic measures.He said that there was no dearth of money for philanthropy but it needs to be properly channelized.  Justice Balakrishnan was addressing the concluding session of the day long National Conference on Leprosy organized by the Commission here.nhrc-logoThe NHRC Chairperson said that it needs to be studied as to why in some States, the incidents of leprosy were more than the others.All efforts have to be made by various stakeholders to spread awareness about the scientific facts related to the disease and break the myths attached with it, he added.Discriminatory provisions in the law, including those in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, violating the rights of leprosy affected persons, also need to be removed, Justice Balakrishnan said.Earlier in the day, Justice Balakrishnan said that 33 States and Union Territories almost attained the level of less than one case of leprosy per 10 thousand population, but it is a cause of concern that new cases of leprosy continue to occur despite various preventive measures.The issues of bringing the leprosy affected persons in the mainstream of society with their proper rehabilitation and financial assistance with uniform approach across the country remains a challenge, he said.Bhanu Paratap Sharma, Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, while addressing the inaugural session said that the issue of rehabilitation of the leprosy affected persons is a stupendous task and cannot be handled by one Ministry.Barring Chhattisgarh, most of the States achieved the elimination targets, but the occurrence of fresh cases of leprosy is a worry.  However, he said that the Centre was committed to achieving the elimination target by 2017, as set out in the 12th Five Year Plan, with the cooperation from States.Sharma said that all States need to appoint District Leprosy Officers along with District Leprosy Consultants.The States also need to fill up the vacant posts of para-medical workers meant for the care of leprosy affected patients.He lauded the role of NGOs involved in the identification, treatment and facilitation of leprosy affected persons and underlined the various incentives given by the Government for such work.The participants included, NHRC Members Justice Cyriac Joseph, Justice D.Murugesan, S.C.Sinha; Secretary General Rajesh Kishore and other senior officers, representatives of National Commissions, State Human Rights Commissions, other State Commissions, officials/representatives of Central/State Governments and Union Territory Administrations, health experts and health scientists, legal experts, representatives of technical organizations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and civil society.Several suggestions emanated from the Conference, some of which are as follows:1)   Large number of NHRC’s recommendations as well as those given in the 131st and the 138th Reports of Committee on Petitions of Rajya Sabha need to be implemented to end social and economic discrimination of leprosy affected persons and their families.2)   The Ministry for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities should revisit the guidelines issued on the subject of Disability Certificate in 2001 so as to give a special consideration to the category of leprosy cured persons even if they do not fulfill the minimum disability of 40 per cent.3)   The possibility of creating a sub-quota of reservations in jobs for leprosy affected persons, in aggregate 5 per cent reservation, needs to be explored in the pending Bill for Persons with Disabilities.4)   Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment needs to have schemes for children of persons affected with disabilities.5)   Special camps need to be organised throughout the country for distribution of assistive devices (as done by Tamil Nadu) as well as Disability Certificates for leprosy affected persons.6)   State should give a reasonable amount of pension for the disabled leprosy affected persons.7)   Remove discriminatory provisions in State Acts (as done by Odisha) to allow leprosy affected persons to contest elections.8)   There is a need to give land ownership to the leprosy affected persons and help them build houses under the Government Schemes.9)  The Government should develop a special programme for the social and economic empowerment of leprosy affected persons.10)    The Centre and States need to implement WHO guidelines for participation of affected persons in leprosy services.11)     The National Leprosy Eradication Programme should include a multi-faceted strategic plan to change the mindsets and reduce stigma and discrimination attached with leprosy.

April 17, 2015 0 Comment

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