A diagnosis of leprosy is a tragedy. In many places in the world it is kept secret for as long as possible and when it does become known frequently the sufferer is removed to a closed community severing all family and community ties.
A couple of years ago the World Health Organisation, who should know better, declared the “elimination” of this Biblical scourge. Tell that to the million or so sufferers in India who now need more help than ever because State provision promptly dried up. Such help comes from people like the Bombay Leprosy Project, which receives £5,000 a year from CHCT.
As well as serving the city’s slums, the biggest in the world, BLP runs a referral centre dealing with surrounding remote tribal areas. Diagnosis, clinical care, treatment, and disability management with follow-up services are provided together with specialised ulcer care, splints, adapted footwear and other aids and appliances. A further £2,500 was sent to a rehabilitation centre helping patients return to a productive life.
When leprosy was identified among mining villages in Nicaragua the charity supported the hard-pressed local aid organisation ADP. Their field workers had no transport to reach patients over many miles of mountain tracks until CHCT provided them with bicycles –an example of its simple, practical approach. At the same time, we gave seeds, tools and fertiliser for villagers to grow their own vegetables and combat their debilitating malnutrition. School lessons were laid on to make the best use of the produce.
Also in South America CHCT joined up with the Fontilles sanatorium in Spain to tackle endemic leprosy on the borders of Ecuador and Argentina near the world famous tourist site, the roaring Iguazu waterfalls. Away from the luxury hotels 40per cent of the population live in poverty. Local medical people have been trained by Fontilles and a case finding and treatment programme has been organised. This will be continued with local and political support.