Enact Law For Substitution Of Derogatory Terms Against Leprosy Affected Persons: NHRC

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission on Monday said that the government should consider enacting a law for substitution of derogatory terms used to describe leprosy affected persons.

“The Union Government should consider enacting a law to provide for substitution of derogatory terms used to describe persons affected by leprosy”, the NHRC said in its advisory to the Centre and the states on Monday.

Issuing the detailed advisory on Monday, the NHRC has called for timely identification, treatment and 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.

“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”, the NHRC advisory has asked the government to ensure.

The commission has called for awareness programmes at the grassroots level to raise awareness about the fact that leprosy is fully curable and a person suffering from leprosy no longer remains contagious after the first dose of MDT and may lead a normal married life.

The advisory to the Centre has sought that awareness programmes 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 curriculums to enhance sensitisation among the youth. The commission has also asked for special programmes to provide vocational training, employment benefits, unemployment benefits, parental leave, health insurance for the betterment of their lives.

“State governments 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 or new nerve function impairment in existing patients,” the NHRC recommended.

The commission has asked to ensure availability of adequate stock of drugs including the MDT drugs for treatment and management of leprosy, its associated complications and to provide and expand mobile based tele-consultation services to persons affected by leprosy.

It has also asked the government to ensure that persons affected with leprosy are provided with BPL card, Aadhar card, job card and other identity proofs on priority to facilitate such persons to avail the benefits of government run welfare schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

The Commission has asked for the implementation of its recommendations in the advisory and the action taken report within three months in a letter to the Union Ministry, Chief Secretaries and Administrators of States and Union Territories.