The Centre Thursday told the Supreme Court that facilities of medicines and reconstruction surgery are available at various hospitals across the country to treat persons suffering from leprosy.

The counsel, appearing for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, told a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra that under the Leprosy Elimination Programme, affected persons are being given medicines and various hospitals in the country also provide the facilities of reconstruction surgeries.

The bench then referred to the contents of an application claiming that the disease is still spreading. It then asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Health Ministry, to file the fresh data relating to persons affected by the disease. Meanwhile, the bench said that an inspection of leprosy centres at Lucknow, Benaras and Agra in Uttar Pradesh be carried out to ascertain facilities being provided to patients.

The counsel for Uttar Pradesh told the bench that at present, 72 leprosy centres are working in the state where 2,149 patients are being treated. The bench, which is hearing a PIL filed by advocate Pankaj Sinha on the problem of leprosy in the country, has granted six weeks time to states for filing replies. Earlier, the court had asked the Centre and state governments to apprise it of steps taken to eradicate and curb leprosy, saying it was their responsibility to curb the spread of the disease which is curable.

Sinha, in his plea, has alleged that leprosy affects over 1.25 lakh people annually in the country. He also alleged that governments have failed to eliminate the disease despite medical treatment available since 1981. “Despite an effective cure, namely Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) which has been available since 1981, that can completely cure 99 per cent of leprosy bacteria, due to apathy of the government of India and the state governments, people are still suffering from the said disease which is treated as a social stigma,” the petition said.

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