New Delhi: Indian MPs would soon float a forum to advocate elimination of stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy. "Next parliament session, we will float a forum to end leprosy and advocate the rights of persons affected by the disease," Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi said at an international symposium on leprosy and human rights in Asia. Also supporting the cause were Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Lok Sabha member D Purandeshwari and Congress Lok Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh Madhu Goud Yakshi. The MPs minced no words in pointing out that India could not be complacent in its fight against leprosy, a concern which all top visiting anti-leprosy experts voiced today. The symposium was organised by the Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation, Visiting Chairman of Nippon Foundation Yohei Sasakawa, who has worked with the WHO for the past 40 years to help eliminate leprosy in 122 nations said, "India has become complacent in the fight against leprosy. "Fighting the last leg of leprosy is most critical. And India is on the last leg." Sasakawa, who is also WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, said, "I have started visiting states for creating awareness to stop stigma against Leprosy affected, which has started yielding good results. Some states like Bihar and Madhya Pradesh have done well in increasing pensions for Leprosy affected from Rs 200 to Rs 1,800 and Rs 1,000 respectively and will now visit more sattes." India still accounts for 58 per cent of the global leprosy burden of 2.28 lakh cases. In 2009, India reported 1.33 lakh cases, and since then every year the number of cases being detected has remained stagnant at around one lakh, reflecting a high level of complacency.Leprosy affected people said they did not want more leper colonies to come up because that forced them to live in isolation from the community.
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