SC asks govt to prepare plan for eradication of leprosy

New Delhi, 03.02.17: The Supreme Court  on Friday asked the Centre to prepare a comprehensive policy for implementation of a plan within four weeks for eradication of leprosy.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar  and justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud said the Centre should also submit in the plan as how it intends to fill the large scale vacancy at the ground level.

“You need people to successfully implement your policies at the ground level,” the bench told the Centre.

Standing counsel Bala Subramanium appearing for the Centre said Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattishgarh are leprosy endemic states and efforts are being made to eradicate the leprosy.

He said an online programme is being launched to detect the patients and their treatment.

Earlier, the apex court had asked the Centre and state governments to apprise it of steps taken to eradicate and curb leprosy, saying it was their responsibility to stop the spread of the disease which is curable.

The bench which was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Pankaj Sinha had earlier rapped the authorities for their “apathy” in eradicating leprosy from the country, saying despite it being “curable”, the disease still remains a stigma.

Earlier too, the apex court had granted time for filing of replies by the Centre and others and had said, “This is a case which should have been taken on priority basis. Leprosy, as on today, is curable and yet because of apathy shown by the authorities concerned, it still remains a stigma.”

Sinha, in his plea, has alleged that leprosy affects over 1.25 lakh people annually in the country.

He had also alleged that governments have failed to eliminate the disease despite medical treatment available since 1981.
“Despite an effective cure, namely Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) which has been available since 1981, that can completely cure 99 per cent of leprosy bacteria, due to apathy of the government of India and the state governments, people are still suffering from the said disease, which is treated as a social stigma,” the petition said.
It has sought a direction to the governments that drugs be made available at primary health centres in the country.
It also pleaded that an appropriate scheme be formulated to bring people suffering from leprosy into the national mainstream.