NHRC notice to health ministry over rising leprosy cases

New Delhi: The NHRC Tuesday issued notice to the health ministry for claiming that leprosy cases in the country had declined whereas a media report quoting official figures suggests otherwise.

"The government has declared that leprosy is under control, but official data shows that the incidence of the disease is rising with 126,800 new cases reported in 2010-11, 127,295 in 2011-12 and 134,752 in 2012-13," the National Human Rights Commission said in a statement citing a media report.

"New cases are being reported from many states and immediate steps are needed to be taken to contain them to maintain the level of elimination, i.e., less than one case per 10,000 population at the national level," it added.

It said that contents of the media report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights and therefore a notice was issued to the secretary of the health ministry seeking a report within four weeks.

The report said that the National Leprosy Elimination Programme (NLEP) 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 percent of the vertical staff including paramedics, physiotherapist, health educators were retained with the NLEP.

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