NEW DELHI: The government is making all efforts to make India leprosy-free and eliminate the sufferings of those affected by it, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday.
Speaking at a function to mark Anti-Leprosy Day, Vardhan said it was shocking that over 100 laws, that discriminate against leprosy-affected people, exist in the country, adding that work has begun to eliminate them.
"It was shocking to learn that there are over 100 laws which discriminate against leprosy patients. Process has already started to rectify the system and get rid of those laws.
"Our government has the heart, soul and mind to deal with these issues. Our prime minister is committed to deal with such issues and he has a very compassionate heart especially for those suffering from miseries. We will try to eliminate the suffering of leprosy-affected people as early as possible," he said.
Last year in his letter to the Law Ministry, Harsh Vardhan had said, "Even though the disease is now fully curable, it is disturbing to learn that there still exist 108 discriminatory laws against persons affected by leprosy including three Union and 105 state laws."
He had urged the ministry to expedite the process and introduction of the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy (EDPAL) Bill, which was drafted by the Law Commission of India and annexed in its 256th Report.
In the function, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) signed an MoU with charitable organisation Sasakawa- India Leprosy Foundation with the objective to make the country free of leprosy.
Hailing the collaboration, the minister said, "I would like to be used as a volunteer in eliminating leprosy and helping patients with the disease."