Massive programme to free leprosy-affected from begging

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

PATNA - An international body, working for a world without leprosy, plans to initiate a massive programme to free thousands of people affected by the disease “from begging for survival” in India.

Yohei Sasakawa, the president of the Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, told reporters here: “It is a fact that people affected by leprosy are begging for their survival across India. It is high time that they are provided help.”

Sasakawa, who is also World Health Organisation Goodwill Ambassador for the Elimination of Leprosy, said the Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation, which was promoting “dignified independence” of the people affected by leprosy through livelihood, would begin a specific programme to provide micro-credit to ensure that they were free from begging.

He said: “We should all work together to remove the social stigma associated with leprosy and empower the disease-affected people to improve their livelihood and enable them to lead a dignified life.”

“The rehabilitation of the cured is equally important. Efforts are needed to reduce discrimination against the leprosy-affected people and promote programmes aimed at their capacity building and improving their livelihood,” Sasakawa said.

He advocated strengthening the network of leprosy-affected people and promoting their empowerment.

“Bihar should prioritise the leprosy elimination programme to further reduce the disease incidence,” he said.

He said he had approached the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to issue a global appeal to end the stigma and discrimination against people affected by leprosy and their family members.

Sasakawa said India achieved elimination of leprosy in 2005 by reducing the case to population ratio to less than 1:10,000. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand report most leprosy cases in the country, he added.

Filed under: Leprosy, Medicine

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