30 Jan : The Delhi Government has announced a hike in the monthly stipend for leprosy patients along with several new initiatives to help those affected get a livelihood.
"We will increase the stipend amount given to leprosy affected patients from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1800 per month beginning from March this year. This was planned but deferred due to elections," Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit said on the occasion of Anti-Leprosy Day at New Delhi on Friday.
Dikshit also announced the start of several new initiatives for those affected by the disease. "We are also starting some programmes to motivate them to begin a new career in fields such as handicrafts and other small scale industries," she said.
The state government and Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation (SILF), an NGO, had invited people from over 28 leprosy affected colonies, mostly concentrated in Tahirpur, Seemapuri Area on the occasion.
The Chief Minister said, "The disease is not contagious and completely curable. The Government will support and stand behind leprosy patients in the time of need."
SILF, which began in 2006 works for socio-economic rehabilitation of leprosy affected people and their families by providing vocational training, education and micro-finance sustainable livelihood activities.
"Even though only some people in leper colonies have been affected those living in such colonies have experienced the acute stigma and rejection of society and continue to face it even today," Vineeta Shankar, Director of SILF, said.
Health Minister Kiran Walia also attended the event where children from leper colonies staged a street play portraying the social stigma attached to the disease.