Coimbatore

Role of religious institutions in helping leprosy patients emphasised

The success of leprosy control programme in India will largely depend on how much the implementers can draw from traditional sources from the society, P.K. Gopal, president of IDEA (Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement of people Affected by Leprosy) India, said in his presentation at an international symposium in The Vatican earlier this month.

While highlighting the contribution of Hinduism to combat leprosy during the symposium titled ‘Towards Holistic Care for People with Hansen’s Disease, Respectful of their Dignity’, Dr. Gopal elaborated on the role of religious institutions in providing support to leprosy-affected people.

Dignity of people affected by leprosy and their empowerment depends upon the attitude of the society. Mahatma Gandhi led society in treating the patients with compassion and treating them as equals. “Mahatma Gandhi was the first person to advice the world not to use the word leper”, and helped the people affected by the disease to progress socially and economically.

In India the segregated people live in nearly 800 leprosy colonies. The Christian Missionaries were the pioneers in starting hospitals to provide exclusive services to the leprosy patients. Ramakrishna Mission is also providing social and economic rehabilitation services to the leprosy affected persons in India, Dr. Gopal, a Padma Shri awardee said.

In India where religion pervades all domains of life, there was nothing wrong in accessing immense resources from religious institutions to render service to leprosy affected people. Many NGOs were trying to involve spiritual leaders of different faiths in social and developmental programmes, he said, concluding that leprosy patients can live with dignity in the absence of the stigma.

Dr. Gopal’s presentation was a part of the round table on the contribution of the Church and other faith communities.

The symposium was co-organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and The Nippon Foundation, in cooperation with the Good Samaritan Foundation; the Fondation Raoul Follereau, the Sovereign Order of Malta; and Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation.

The symposium was attended by 254 participants from 45 countries. This was the first symposium that the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers of Vatican conducted on leprosy.


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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 7:43:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/Role-of-religious-institutions-in-helping-leprosy-patients-emphasised/article14465205.ece

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