Sunday, August 15, 2010
The United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee issued a press release on Friday calling for an end to laws that discriminate against persons affected by leprosy. The HRC Advisory Committee has also issued a draft set of principles and guidelines which recommend that States enact legislation to ensure people affected by leprosy and their family members do not suffer discrimination in employment, education, health, marriage, religion, use of public utilities and public places. This draft will be submitted to the HRC at its next meeting in September.
Leprosy is a disease that affects the nerves, nose and upper respiratory tract. It is best known by its unsightly skin lesions. It is estimated that between 2 to 3 million persons worldwide have been permanently disfigured because of the disease. Today, It is curable and, as a result of better treatment, the number of new cases has declined dramatically in the last decade. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , most new cases are found in Angola, Brazil, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal and United Republic of Tanzania. Despite recent progress in reducing the number of new cases, there is still discrimination against persons with leprosy based on outdated beliefs regarding how the disease is spread. Accordingly, the UN HRC Advisory Committee hopes to bring attention to the issue to end to such discrimination.