A nationwide campaign, HEAL India (Hire. Educate. Accept Leprosy-affected), which attempts to clear the persisting misconceptions about leprosy in India, will launched from October 10 by Leprosy Mission Trust India.
Leprosy, a bacterial disease treatable with a six-month course of medication if diagnosed early, is believed to have originated in India in about 2000 BC. Medical evidence from skeletons of the time have pointed to its prevalence then.
In 2005, India officially declared that the disease has been eradicated romm the country. In the years since that declaration, however, the disease has resurfaced, afflicting greater numbers in the poorest states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra.
India now accounts for 58 percent of the new leprosy cases worldwide.
The campaign by the Leprosy Mission Trust India will seek to clear misconceptions about the disease that cause those afflicted to be stigmatised, unable to gain employment or acceptance in society.
The campaign is slated to reach over a million people by bringing together corporate houses, governments, entrepreneurs, children, schools, celebrities, NGOs and people affected by leprosy.
India creates approximately seven million jobs every year, but people affected by leprosy struggle to find one.
The HEAL India campaign will open avenues of employment for them by building their skills, connecting them to employment opportunities and creating an inclusive hiring environment through a corporate charter with industry bodies, a release issued Sunday said.
HEAL India will be reaching out to people in Delhi National Capital Region through 40,000 schools children and youth in colleges. Workshops, films, music contests, and parent-teacher associations will be used for the campaign.
Leprosy Mission Trust India said it is advocating for leprosy awareness to be part of school curricula.