Beat leprosy together

Leprosy stirs fear and hate in so many people. We can replace their fear with HOPE!

 

 

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World Leprosy Day is held on the last Sunday of January every year – which is the 26th of January this year. Across the globe, leprosy charities and partners will join together to raise awareness of this disease that many people believe to be extinct, when in fact around 210,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and we believe many more people are living undiagnosed, leaving them at risk of disabilities.

Leprosy in Nepal

Leprosy was declared ‘eliminated’ in Nepal in 2010 when the prevalence rate came down to 0.79%. However, in recent years, the prevalence rate is creeping up again and was 0.94% in 2018, which experts fear marks the resurgence of the disease in Nepal. The percentage could be more, officials say, as some areas have a much higher prevalence rate. 

More than 3,000 new patients are diagnosed with leprosy every year, with most cases found in the Terai region and in the high hills of Karnali Province. There is still more work to do in defeating leprosy and the stigma associated with it.

What is Leprosy?

 

  • Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is caused by Mycobacterium leprae which attack the nerves.
  • It is classed as a Neglected Tropical Disease [NTD].
  • One of the first signs of leprosy can be a patch of discoloured numb skin, but there are others too, making it difficult to diagnose for people that are experienced.
  • Leprosy is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age. 
  • Leprosy is curable and early treatment averts most disabilities. But left untreated it can cause life-changing permanent damage to hands, feet and eyes, leading to paralysis, blindness, ulcers and amputations.

Research suggests the bacteria is not spread through touch alone but through prolonged, regular exposure to a person carrying the disease. It is thought to be most likely transmitted through water-borne droplets [coughing and sneezing].

INF’s Leprosy Work

INF has been working in the area of leprosy for the past 68 years. INF is running three hospitals:

  1. Shining Hospital – INF Surkhet
  2. Shining Hospital- INF Nepalgunj and
  3. Green Pastures Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre [GPHRC], Pokhara.

With these hospitals, INF is serving leprosy patients from western and mid-western regions of Nepal and has been a main supporting partner to the government in west Nepal.  

 

Green Pastures Hospital

Shining Hospital Banke

Shining Hospital Surkhet

INF is committed to reduce leprosy transmission and the disability burden through early case detection and treatment, improve access to timely and complete treatment including complication and reaction management, and reduce stigma and discrimination due to leprosy. 

Each year INF centres diagnose more than 400 new leprosy cases, admit more than 1000 leprosy patients for complication management, provide self-care education and training to leprosy patients to prevent deformity of their hands and feet, and on the job practical training to health professionals.

In FY 2018-19

30,071 people affected by leprosy were treated through Outpatient and Inpatient services of which 329 new cases of leprosy were detected.

 

35 reconstructive surgeries conducted for leprosy patients

 

 

Aasha

“I can feel that the reaction problem is about to occur. I get scared whenever I have the symptoms. I start thinking how I will miss my family when I have to leave them and stay alone in the hospital again. This is happening often. I don’t like the feeling,”

Leprosy was declared eliminated from Nepal in 2010.

Try telling that to 14-year-old Aasha:

Aasha was six years old when her family first noticed blisters on her legs. She was taken to a nearby health centre where she was given medicine for an allergy but there was no improvement in her condition. By the time she was ten, blisters started appearing on her face. Her condition continued to deteriorate and she was eventually referred to INF Nepal Green Pastures Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre where she got the correct diagnosis and treatment. 

Aasha faces the problem of a reaction to the leprosy drugs frequently, with fever and nerve pain the major symptoms.

Leprosy is curable if detected early 

Uday [54 years] came to INF Nepal hospital after a neighbour recognised the symptoms and suggested he came, where he was diagnosed with leprosy. He is happy to receive the right treatment at the right time, knowing that due to early diagnosis and treatment, leprosy would be completely cured without developing any complications.

Uday Khatri

“I feel lucky to have arrived at the hospital on time. Yes leprosy is completely curable if it is detected at the early stage”

Leprosy is CURABLE!

With a course of Multi-Drug Therapy [MDT], usually over the course of 12 months, a person affected by leprosy can be cured. In fact, within 48 hours of beginning the treatment, they are no longer infectious and pose no threat of passing on the disease to those around them. If diagnosed and treated early enough, they should have few, if any, ongoing problems.

 

Mother Teresa

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody”.

 

There are hundreds like Aasha and Uday seeking your support. This Leprosy Day helps someone like Aasha and Uday to be free from leprosy. Even the smallest contribution can help to provide an effective cure, expert care and vital restoration. Together we can help to beat leprosy. 

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