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Leprosy victims deserve to live with dignity

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03rd-Nov-2017       
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(From previous issue) :
On July 2, 2015, a resolution aimed at eliminating discrimination and the stigma associated with leprosy and to promote, protect and respect the human rights of those affected by leprosy, and their family members was unanimously adopted at the 29th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
At present, leprosy eradication activities has become NGO-dependent. Government support is imperative as it is not possible for NGOs to handle the situation alone. Collaboration between the government and NGOs can bring a positive result.
Advocacy and information education communication programmes on leprosy at different levels of the society involving the government and the NGOs would make the eradication programme a success. Joint partnership is important as it may speed up the process of leprosy eradication.
We need a national strategy with a rights-based approach in leprosy services is as follows:
Taking necessary steps for early new case detection and their timely and complete management, quality leprosy services in an integrated setup by qualified health workers, rehabilitation of people affected by leprosy including medical and community-based rehabilitation, reducing stigma and discrimination through advocacy, social mobilization, IEC activities and ensuring social inclusion, strengthening referral centers for complications management, and meaningful involvement of people affected by leprosy in leprosy services and address human right issues.
We should support the victims to overcome the effects of leprosy through physiotherapy, self-care training and other rehabilitation services.
We can also help them to transform their lives through the provision of education, vocational training and livelihood support so that they can feed and clothe their family and play a full and dignified part in the life of their community.
Physical rehabilitation includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, surgery and the provision of appliances like crutches, wheelchairs and prostheses for people with mobility problems.
Livelihoods training and vocational training is for enabling disabled people to access livelihood programmes in their communities.
Community-based rehabilitation means ensuring that people with disabilities are included in the development that is going on in communities.
Training of people with disabilities is to give them skills to break down barriers and stand up for their rights; and of governments and other organisations to ensure they include disabled people in their programmes.
Together we should raise our voice to demand equality for people affected by leprosy, for their rights to be upheld and for prejudice and stigma to be overcome. An enhanced effort, renewed commitment, and an inclusive approach are needed to end leprosy. It is needed to break the chains of leprosy, empower people to obtain healing, attain dignity and be able to lead a full life.
For eradication, we need to detect all the patients timely and bring them under treatment. It is needed to enable every health worker to diagnose and treat leprosy, improve awareness of its early signs, and motivate people to seek treatment, and ensure that all leprosy patients are cured.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 by the United Nations under the banner '17 goals to transform our world'. One of the most crucial aims of the SDGs is to ensure that no one is left behind. We should work to ensure that those affected by leprosy and persons with disabilities are fully included and benefitted from the development process.
Leprosy victims, mostly poor people, are living in subhuman conditions. It is hoped that the government will attach priority to the leprosy issue, which would help build a better society through eradicating the disease.

 (The writer is a journalist)
Syed Momenuzzaman 

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