The government has put in a lot of effort to eradicate leprosy but it had done precious little to rehabilitate the cured patients who are finding it difficult to join the mainstream.

According to official sources as many as 2523 [ released from treatment] patients have been cured between 2008-15 . This apart, 1489 new leprosy patients were under treatment during the same period. Presently, officials said, 308 affected patients are under treatment, said sources at the district leprosy eradication unit here. Practically almost all cured people are deprived of getting works despite introduction of many welfare and development schemes. For instance, near the Dhenkanal main railway station, as many as 72 families are staying in a colony. They have been cured of leprosy and declared as such by the district hospital.

Most of them are begging as they continue to be haunted by the social stigma, said Ranjan Nayak who looks after the service activities of the colony. The government has not been able to provide alternative job opportunities for these people.

The colony does not have a proper all weather road. Several officials have promised a lot to the residents of the colony but nothing has materialized and the plight of the residents remains the same.

The government is yet to implement rehabilitation of cured leprosy patients in the district. The Union government has a rehabilitation scheme under the ministry of social justice and several states have implemented it. Officials like the DRDA project director Madhusudan Mishra said the issue will be discussed with the collector at the next meeting. District Leprosy Officer Dr Mrutyunjaya Mohapatra admitted the fact and said we will raise the issue at state level. He informed 2523 affected patients have been cured and issued certificate like released from treatment. Rs.7 lakhs under National Leprosy eradication programme [NLEP] has been released to promote awareness through different campaigns in six blocks. Our main aim is to cure affected persons and prevent disability among affected persons. Records said 35 affected patients were treated under reconstructed surgery in 2014-15 while 16 cases in the current year. Besides, government has released Rs.8000 each to the cured patients undergoing reconstructed surgery, informed Dr Mohapatra.

‘Sambha Rath’ moved from today to promote awareness among locals in 23 wards of Dhenkanal Municipality for three days. CDMO Dr Sangram Kishor Das flagged off the Sambha Rath from district headquarters hospital.