शनिवार, 5 मई 2018

Denial of basic treatment to Leprosy Patients resulted in beggary and hunger among them in Odisha

Denial of basic treatment, food and shelter to Leprosy Patients by Govt. of Odisha resulted in beggary, hunger and impoverishment among them

Leprosy work is not merely medical relief, it is transforming frustration of life  into joy of dedication, personal ambition into selfless service- Mahatma Gandhi

Dear friends
Leprosy patients are seen neglected, mal-treated   and forced to beggary in  Odisha   due to apathy  and indifferent attitude of the State Govt. for years together.  Many of the Leprosy Home and Hospitals located in Hatibari of Sambalpur district, Badapada of Balasore district, Puri town of Puri district and Nuabazar of Cuttack district are completely mismanaged due to absence of doctors, nurses, dressers and lack of infrastructures.  The patients are not provided adequate treatment and their wounds are not dressed with medicine and left to survive at the mercy of God.  Due to lack of treatment, hundreds of leprosy patients are disabled and forced to begging along roadside, in front of temple etc.

Since 2002 with Nabin Patnaik, as Chief Minister coming to power,  leprosy  elimination programme faced  big disaster  due  to  conspiracy  of the state  bureaucracy  to  show elimination  of leprosy  from Odisha  by manipulating data. For example, in 2003, name of total no. of 1, 27,084 leprosy patients was arbitrarily withdrawn from the   Register through bureaucratic manipulation.

In the year 2001, after the global elimination was achieved, a target was reset for the remaining 14 countries to achieve elimination on national basis by December, 2005. India was one of these countries. The National Health Policy, Govt. of India sets the goal of elimination of leprosy i.e. to reduce the no. of cases to < 1/10,000 population by the year 2005.The National Leprosy Eradication Programme of India  took up the challenge with the active support of the State/ UT Governments and dedicated partners in the World Health Organisation, the International Federation of Anti Leprosy Associations (ILEP), the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation & the Nippon Foundation, NOVARTIES, DANLEP (1986-2003) and the World Bank.  In 2005, India declared to achieve the goal of elimination of leprosy as a public health problem, defined as less than 1 case per 10,000 populations, at the National Level in the month of December, 2005. As on 31st December 2005, Prevalence Rate recorded in the country was 0.95/10,000population.

In Odisha , in response to call  given  by the Central Government  to  achieve target of elimination of leprosy,  in 2004-05 and 2005-06,   the State  Government  without practically  taking any steps  for elimination of leprosy patients,   launched  “Cleaning of Register Campaign” by forming  District Technical Support Team ( DTST)  to eliminate name of patients  from the Register to show that leprosy  has been eliminated .  This was a data manipulation strategy to achieve the national target.   By declaring elimination of leprosy in Odisha with false data, the State Government neglected    exercise of identification and treatment of leprosy patients in hospitals.
As per the statistics obtained under RTI, it was found that  number of leprosy  again increased  just after 2005

Situation of leprosy patients in Odisha
(Information obtained  under RTI)
Total patients identified
Percentage of leprosy patients as per 10,000 population
Disabled  due to leprosy  disease
Total SC and ST population affected
% of  total leprosy patients

The above-mentioned data shows that trend in rise of leprosy patients started just after declaration of elimination of leprosy in Odisha. Now it has been acute as it has crossed the limit as less than 1 case per 10,000 populations fixed   by WHO as a public health problem. In 2002, when 38,349 leprosy patients were undergoing treatment posing acute health problem in the state (7.1 per 10,000 population) , the  high-level Committee of  the State Government on dt. 7.12.2002 citing no reasons abolished 850 posts of leprosy workers out of 1251 posts. Rest 404 leprosy workers were abjured in 314 PHC/CHC and 90 urban health Centres.  Then in 2004,  in the name of policy of integration,  the State Govt. declared  that  identification and treatment of leprosy  patients  will be  undertaken  in CHC/PHC and  urban health centres. But practically, it does not happen. Generally the doctors, nurse never touch the patients and treat their wounds. The post of Dresser is lying vacant in many health centres.  The patients were just provided MDT (Multi Drug Therapy) dose (this drug came into wide use from 1982 following the recommendation by the WHO Study Group, Geneva in October 1981) which has been reduced from 24 months to 11 months.  Leprosy patients were seen neglected and denied treatment.  Many patients also died of lack of treatment. However, in 2006, the State Government declared that they succeeded to achieve the target of elimination of leprosy as less than 1 per 10,000 by manipulating data and eliminating names from the registers without providing any treatment. But practically, due to Govt. negligence and apathy, since 2006 the number of leprosy patients starts rising in Odisha in every year.  The situation has been very horrible and
declining in the state.

As  the identification and treatment of patients has been left to health  workers  who are  untrained  having no  idea  about  leprosy treatments, the patients are not only denied treatment  but also deprived  of rehabilitation as required  for their livelihood. In view of trend of increase of patients in the state, in 2014 the Central Government suggested a proposal to State Government to fulfil vacancy of 321 para-medical workers and appointment of 184 additional leprosy workers and sanctioned 4 crores for it.   Sri Damodar Rout, the then Minister for Health and Family welfare    endorsed this proposal and directed to the Department to ensure appointment. But the bureaucracy did not carry out the order. The sanctioned amount of Rs. 4 crore was returned back  to Central Government with no appointment.

On the other  hand,  Odisha  has   14 number of  Leprosy  Home and Hospitals   which  caters treatment  and housing  the leprosy patients .  These  leprosy  Homes were established  by Christian Missionaries  during  British period.  The Missionaries  were  rendering  their services  starting from treatment  to providing  food and shelter to the leprosy patients  who were forced  to leave their  family and village  due to social stigma. In 1950 after independence,  Hind Kusth Nivarana Sangh ( HKNS)  was  formed  as registered  body  under Societies Registration Act  to look into management of Leprosy Home and Hospitals. In Odisha,  Hon’ble Governor  is the Chiarman and Chief Minister is the deputy chairman  of  HKNS. Out of 14 Leprosy Home and Hospitals, 7 are non-existent  and other 7  Home and hospitals are located  in Cuttack Nua bazaar ( 120-bedded), Balasore, Dhenkanal, Nawarangpur, Sambalpur-Hatibari,  Dhenkanal, Bolangir  having  each 20-bedded hospitals.  But these hospitals are totally neglected, mismanaged with absence of doctors, nurses and other staff.   In 2015 and 2016,  a fact-finding team of  Social Activists  had visited  Homes and Hospitals located  at Balasore, Hatibari and Cuttack  to  study the condition of leprosy patients  and  management of hospitals.  It was found that the leprosy patients are denied basic treatment; their wounds are not being dressed properly. Medicine is not given them properly. The State Govt. allots only Rs. 50.00 towards food per patient per day   and Rs.300.00 towards soap, cloth, oil per year which is insufficient for them.  A measurement of 40 acres of land of Cuttack Home and Hospitals has been encroached by outsiders.  Similarly,  in Bhubaneswar a plot No. U-9/A measuring  80 ft x 66 ft   located  at Bhoi Nagar, Unit-9  which was allotted  by General Administration Department  in 1989   for  construction of the office of  HKNS  has been  encroached by  State Govt. officials of Health and Family Welfare Dept.    The situation of Hatibari Homes and Hospitals   is horrible and suffer from  intra-fighting  and groupism  among  the patients , corruption and embezzlement  of fund. Since last 20 years, not  a single leprosy patients  has been rehabilitated   by the Govt.

Since last   five years, the  Civil Society Groups  and  Leprosy Organisations  have  raised  the issues of leprosy patients  and  taken up the  following  activity in order to give justice to them.

Action Programme

1.        Three Fact-finding Team under leadership of Pradip Pradhan , RTI Activist and Convener of Civil Society Forum   had visited  Sambalpur-Hatibari, Balasore and  Cuttack  in 2015 and 2016   to  understand the problem of the patients. The fact-finding Report has been submitted to Governor, Odisha, chief Minister and Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of Odisha  to take  steps  for the effective management of leprosy Homes and Hospitals.

2.       In 2016, a memorandum  was submitted to Dr. A.B.Otta, the then  Revenue Divisional Commissioner,  Central Zone, Cuttack  seeking his intervention  to return back the encroached  land  of  Cuttack leprosy Home and Hospitals and ensure its effective management.

3.       Two  complaint case  have been filed to National  Human Rights Commission and Odisha Human Rights Commission seeking an inquiry into alleged  mismanagement of Homes and Hospitals  and   protecting the right of leprosy patients  to access food, shelter and livelihood  and ensuring their rehabilitation. The case is pending.

4.       In September, 2016,  a Dharana programme was organised  in front of Raj Bhawan  highlighting problem of the leprosy patients  and a memorandum was submitted to Governor, Odisha  seeking his intervention as Chairman of  Hind Kusth Nivarana Sangh.

5.       On 30.4.18, a  Mass Dharana was organised  under banner  of Joint Action Committee of Leprosy Organisations  with participation of hundreds of leprosy patients  and Social Activists  demanding  the following points  and a  memorandum was also submitted to Chief Minister  to solve their long-standing problems.

Our demands

a.       Decision dated 7.1.14  taken  by the them Minister  for Health and Family Welfare  for  fulfilling vacancy of post of Leprosy workers  in the state  in order to ensure effective treatment of the patients.
b.      Leprosy patients  residing  in Rural areas and  NAC and Urban areas  are  to be provided land  under the right to  land of Slum-dwellers Act, 2017  and financial support  for construction of houses  under  Pradhanmantri Awas Yojana on priority basis.
c.      Each leprosy patients should be provided a pension amount of Rs. 1000.00 per month instead of Rs.300.00.
d.    The different posts lying vacant in Leprosy Home and Hospitals should be filled  up on war-footing way.   Each patient should be   allotted Rs. 100.00 towards food instead of  Rs. 50.00  and yearly allowance  for cloth  and others  should be Rs. 1000.00.
e.    The Govt.  should  take immediate step  to acquire/ restore   the land     of Leprosy home and  Hospitals located at Cuttack and Balasore  and land allotted  to HKNS in Bhubaneswar   encroached   by  outsiders  and Govt. officials.
f.     The Govt. should take measures  for rehabilitation of  leprosy patients.
g.    The Govt.  should provide  free education to the children of leprosy patients  and provide them opportunity of employment.

Pradip Pradhan
Joint Action Committee of Leprosy Home and Hospitals, Odisha
Date- 5.5.18

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