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NHRC Core Group Expresses Concerns On Problems Faced By Leprosy-hit People

NHRC core group expresses concerns on problems faced by leprosy-hit people

New Delhi, Dec 22 (PTI) A core group on health under the NHRC expressed serious concerns on Wednesday on the problems faced by leprosy-affected people and those hit by mental health problems, which got aggravated during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) organised a meeting of its Core Group on Health and Mental Health in a hybrid mode on its premises here on Wednesday.

The first session on issues related to those affected by leprosy was chaired by Justice (retd) Arun Mishra, the chairperson of the NHRC.

"There are still many discriminatory laws, which need to be either amended or repealed and replaced with the policies and frameworks that will protect the human rights of the people affected with leprosy," he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the NHRC.

The deliberations were divided into two thematic sessions, which included human rights issues of those affected by leprosy and the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health and related issues, the officials said.

Their social and economic empowerment needs to be prioritised to bring them in the mainstream of the society, it was suggested at the meeting.

Some of the other important suggestions that emerged from the discussions were that availability and accessibility of resources to those hit by leprosy need to be ensured, and they need to be provided with a sustained supply of medicines, basic amenities and vocational training to help them make their living to improve their socio-economic conditions, the statement said.

The mental health and the rehabilitation of those affected by leprosy and their families need to be focussed on to bring them in the mainstream of the society and awareness about leprosy needs to be built through a sustained campaign to dispel the myth about the disease and the discrimination associated with it, it added.

Chairing the second session on COVID-19 and mental health, Justice M M Kumar said the mental health sector "remains a concern".

The pandemic has added to the problems related to mental health issues, he said.

Implementation of the advisories issued by the NHRC as a guiding principle to deal with this challenge by the authorities concerned will be very useful, Justice Kumar said.

Some of the important suggestions during the discussions were that the states should submit action-taken reports on the NHRC advisories on mental health.

It was also suggested that the concerns over preparedness regarding the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and the lack of clarity on the efficacy of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines need to be looked into on priority to avoid the mental stress related to it.

An increased budgetary allocation for mental health and in particular, for the district mental health programme, and an increased number of dedicated staff for psychiatric care, without diverting them for other duties in the health sector, were also suggested.

Transparency in maintaining data was stressed upon and it was suggested that the methods in every district should be standardised to avoid disparity in reporting, the statement said. PTI KND RC

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