NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday expressed concern over rising cases of leprosy in the country, and issued a notice to the Ministry of Health, seeking a report within four weeks.
The government has declared that leprosy is under control. However, the official data shows otherwise, with the incidence of the crippling disease on the rise with 1,26,800 new cases in 2010-11, 1,27,295 in 2011-12 and 1,34,752 in 2012-13.
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. However, the situation started worsening following integration of leprosy services with General Healthcare System.
Only 25 per cent of the erstwhile vertical staff, including paramedics, physiotherapists and health educators, were retained with the 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. Therefore, providing a dedicated worker for leprosy related work was getting difficult. As a result, due care could not be provided to the persons affected by leprosy,” the NHRC said.
It is also reported that during the last six years, a number of officials had retired. Also, in most of the states, the posts remained vacant, resulting in shortage of manpower at block level, which meant that quality of services could not be attained.