Home >politics >policy >NHRC concerned over rise in leprosy cases, seeks report

New Delhi:The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday expressed concern over rise in cases of leprosy in the country and issued a notice to the Union health ministry seeking a report within four weeks.

The Commission took suo moto cognisance of a media report which said though the government has declared that leprosy is under control, official data shows the incidence of the crippling disease has been on increase with 1,26,800 new cases in 2010-11, 1,27,295 in 2011-12 and 1,34,752 in 2012-13, NHRC said in a statement here.

New cases were being reported from many states and immediate steps were needed to be taken to contain them to maintain the level of elimination, that is, less than one case per 10,000 people at the national level.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of leprosy patients.

“Accordingly, a notice has been issued to the secretary, ministry of health, Government of India, calling for a report within four weeks," the statement said.

According to the media report, the National Leprosy Elimination Programme was a vertical programme run by specially trained staff under district leprosy officers till 2002-03, but the situation started worsening following integration of leprosy services with General Healthcare System.

Only 25% of the erstwhile vertical staff including paramedics, physiotherapists and health educators were retained with the National Leprosy Elimination Programme and the rest were surrendered to the General Healthcare System to work as multi-purpose workers and supervisors.

“The General Healthcare staff has to perform other activities and, therefore, providing one dedicated worker for leprosy related work was getting difficult and as a result, due care could not be provided to the persons affected by leprosy," the statement said.

It is also reported that during the last six years a number of officials had retired and in most of the states the posts remained vacant resulting in shortage of manpower at block level. Hence, the quality of services was not been attained, the statement added.

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