New Delhi : The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for intensified efforts for early detection of leprosy cases, equitable access to appropriate treatment and integrated leprosy services.
He was presenting the International Gandhi Award for Leprosy, 2021 to Dr. Bhushan Kumar from Chandigarh and Sahyog Kushtha Yagna Trust, Gujarat at Upa-Rashtrapati Nivas in New Delhi. The annual award was instituted by Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation.
Lauding the efforts of the recipients, Shri Naidu said that both Dr. Bhushan Kumar and Sahyog Kushtha Yagna Trust have been working diligently to raise awareness about leprosy and in providing care to those afflicted with it. They have also been striving to remove the stigma associated with it. “Their efforts are truly praiseworthy”, he added.
The Vice President urged people and civil society organizations to join the campaign to eradicate leprosy. He said that there should be social mobilization in support of this noble cause. He also wanted Gram Sabha to include leprosy eradication in their programmes
Acknowledging India’s steady fight against leprosy, Shri Naidu said that India successfully accomplished levels of leprosy eradication defined as less than one case per ten thousand population.
Expressing his concern over the fact that India is reporting the highest number of leprosy cases in the world, Shri Naidu stated that India accounts for (51%) of the new cases detected globally (2020–2021). He said that the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) has been at the forefront of the battle against leprosy and has been trying to ensure total eradication.
Recalling the contribution of Mahatma Gandhiji towards eliminating social ostracism suffered by people afflicted by leprosy, the Vice President said, “Mahatma Gandhiji’s compassion for patients of leprosy stands out as a towering example of exemplary kindness towards fellow human beings. Gandhiji led by example—often tending to leprosy patients personally—in an era in which ignorance about the disease held sway.”
Quoting Gandhiji, Shri Naidu said, “Leprosy work is not merely medical relief; it is transforming the frustration in life into the joy of dedication, personal ambition into selfless service. If you can change the life of a patient or change his values of life, you can change the village and the country.”
Shri Dhirubhai Mehta, Chairman, Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation, Dr. Anil Kumar, DDG, Leprosy, Dr. B.S. Garg, Convener, International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy and other dignitaries participated in the event.