The necessity to conduct intensive campaigns to extend “fair and non-discriminatory” healthcare to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and social rehabilitation of persons cured of leprosy was highlighted by speakers at a meeting here on Tuesday.
They were addressing the golden jubilee of Swiss Emmaus Leprosy Relief Work India that handles various leprosy projects in the country.
Inaugurating the programme, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala lauded the efforts of international organisations for establishing training and research facilities, hospitals and specialised treatment centres across the country to render services to people with leprosy.
Recalling the years between 1970 and 1980 when India, with 40 lakh registered cases, had the maximum load of leprosy in the world, he said, “It took almost 100 years to find a viable medical drug to effectively cure leprosy.” The “relentless service” by voluntary organisations has brought the prevalence of leprosy to less than one per 1,000, he added.
Deputy Director General (Leprosy), Directorate General of Health Services, G.P.S. Dhillon said the Centre with 25,000 primary healthcare centres across the country and with tie-ups with other NGOs was trying its best to eliminate leprosy.
Swiss Emmaus Leprosy Relief Work India was re-christened as Fairmed India at the meeting.
Fairmed Director Rene Staehili said the organisation's focus was on providing quality healthcare to the “poorest sections” of society. “Poverty and diseases often overlap, and the offshoots of poverty like criminality, violence and dreadful living conditions create a ‘hellish spiral' for the people,” he said.
Swiss Emmaus India CEO John Kurien George said: “It is important to bridge the gap between the efforts of the government and the health requirements of the community, without compromising on the quality of medical services.”