In 2005, India ‘eliminated’ leprosy. But in rural belt, large number of leprosy cases go unregistered.
Maharashtra was one of the first 7 states to achieve the goal of zero-leprosy. This means there are less than 4 in every 10,000 people affected by leprosy. But as this video shows, there are many more leprosy patients than the government record shows.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae which mainly affects the skin, peripheral nerves, upper respiratory tract and the eyes. It is curable and treatment provided in the early stages averts disability.
Currently India has a special plan to tackle leprosy called National Leprosy Eradication Programme, NLEP. Under NLEP all leprosy patients are entitled to free healthcare facilities including Multi Drug Therapy.
Apart from that state government of Maharashtra also has several special facilities for the leprosy patients.
The state has 42 Leprosy Control units spread all across the state where leprosy patients can get free treatment. Apart from that, they can avail several oher benefits which include:
35 kg of rice and wheat at Rs. 2 and Rs. 3 respectively every month.
Housing facility under schemes like Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana
Priority employments to leprosy affected persons and their dependents
Leprosy affected people are also entitled to travel concessions
However, Rohini Power reports, there are about 25 people in a single village like Walhe who neither gets benefits of any government scheme, nor help from any other sources. Every 6 months they get a paltry Rs 300 (approx 7 US dollar) which is hardly of any help.
According to Rohini, the fact that leprosy patients are avoided by villagers and are forced to stay away only increases their sufferings, making them castaways and isolated from the community.