Did you know that there are over 10 million people in India who need daily care and support but do not receive them? Even the laws cannot help them in spite of them being good citizens of this country. Such is the sorry tale of our country with the world’s largest number of leprosy-affected people. In a bid to shed light upon the social stigma associated with the disease and to spread awareness around it, Novartis, the global healthcare company organized a special documentary screening on leprosy in the city in association with Leprosy Mission Trust India. The documentary was produced by India’s only 2-in-1 channel, NDTV Prime.
The documentary titled ‘The Unwanted’ was hosted in order to draw attention to the state of leprosy-affected people by creating a conversation around the subject. Present among the guests were Swati Maliwal, Chairperson NCW; Jawed Zia, Country President, Novartis; Dr. Anil Kumar, National Leprosy Eradication Program; Dr. Mary Verghese, The Leprosy Mission Trust India; KTS Tulsi, Rajya Sabha, Member of Parliament and Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court; Jayashree P Kunju, CA and CEO at iBAS Consulting; Stuti Kakkar, Head of Child Rights Panel by Women and Child Development Ministry; Raghu Rai, renowned photographer, etc.
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO), India has reported a steady decline in the number of people with leprosy. However, a global report from 2015 states that 60% of the 2,12,000 people detected with leprosy were from India. WHO norms states that leprosy is eliminated only if the prevalence of the disease is less than one case per 10,000 population, a status which India had achieved in 2005. However, the next step is to eradicate the disease from roots and have zero cases reported.
The thought provoking documentary was aimed to shed light onto the sensitive topic and address the stories of those with Leprosy that range from abandonment, discrimination, pain to physical deformation. It also highlighted the need to render human service to those in need and in the process, help create ways to eradicate the spread of the disease.