“Persons suffering from leprosy face thousand indignities every day in India”
Today, leprosy is among the most debilitating diseases known to mankind. Once diagnosed with leprosy, patients face the long and uphill task of recovering and reintegrating into their community. Employers regularly turn away people who have the disease, even if they have been treated and cured. Often people diagnosed with leprosy hide their condition from their families and loved ones, out of fear that they will be ostracised from the community. Obtaining legal documents such as a driver’s license, ration card, etc. is very difficult. Often the disease free children of leprosy patients are shunned by the communities they live in.
What is the “real” challenge confronting persons with leprosy?
Persistent stigma, prejudice and misunderstanding of leprosy continue to be stubborn barriers for leprosy patients and their family members to overcome. Evidence suggests that a staggering number of individuals are at risk of being left behind, burdened by low self-esteem, subject to low expectations and diminished in their ability to pursue their dreams.
Leprosy, related disability disproportionately affect women, children and older people. Persons suffering from leprosy, related disability and persons with disability face widespread barriers to accessing services, and experience significantly poorer health outcomes
What the government is doing about it?
While the Government of India declared leprosy eradicated in 2002, the stigma of leprosy endures in India. Even though the country has made great strides against the disease, which is neither highly contagious nor fatal, the number of new cases has risen over the past few years. Endemic regions across the country are struggling to make progress and rehabilitate victims.