The right not to be subject to discrimination is a fundamental right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. That is also the case of the right to health and health care, access to education, and equal rights and opportunities for men and women.
The discrimination suffered by people affected by leprosy has an impact on many aspects of their lives: loss of employment, housing or possibility to study, family breakdown. The children of parents affected by leprosy often suffer rejection at school and from their relatives. People diagnosed with leprosy may be refused access to health care. In a number of countries, hospitals refuse to admit them.
These are violations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guarantees the right to an adequate standard of living for oneself and their family, the right to housing, health and education.
In 2010, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a special resolution urging for “the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.” While it is important for this issue to be recognized at the international level, this has however not been followed by binding measures.
Through its information and awareness campaigns, CIOMAL contributes to the fight against discrimination towards people affected by leprosy. CIOMAL strives for people affected by leprosy to be perceived as “persons with disabilities,” in order to change the way society views them and allow them to enter national programs intended for disabled people. Through its socio-economic rehabilitation project, CIOMAL helps lift out of extreme poverty people affected by leprosy and their relatives, by providing them with a roof, access to education and training, and financial assistance to start a small business. In this way, CIOMAL participates to the fight for economic, social and cultural rights, which constitute fundamental human rights together with civil and political rights.