Sukmaya Sunar was diagnosed with leprosy a little less than two years ago. For months before this she had been experiencing painful swelling and raised nodules on her skin. Sukmaya’s family – her husband Padam and their two sons – are not wealthy. Their work is insecure and they rely on income one of their sons is able to earn while working in India.

Yet, at significant cost to themselves, Sukmaya visited many doctors and pharmacists trying to find out the cause of her condition and seek relief for her suffering.

Sukmaya was prescribed many different treatments, but none brought any benefit. Every rupee spent on ineffective treatments was money they could scarcely afford to waste. Every moment spent receiving ineffective consultations was time wasted as her condition worsened.

Eventually she visited a dermatologist who also consults with INF Nepal’s Shining Hospital in Banke District and he was able to confirm a diagnosis of leprosy.

Early intervention is key

Sukmaya’s dermatologist  advised her to go to the local health post to begin the course of Multi Drug Therapy. However, the health post itself was ill-equipped to manage her treatment and Sukmaya was finally referred to Shining Hospital, Banke.

Treatment and care at Shining Hospital is low-cost or free to ensure that the poorest people are able to be treated for a disease that can cause severe problems and disability if left unchecked. Sukmaya has visited around ten or twelve times since her diagnosis for medication and observation. At one point, she was admitted for almost two months as tests indicated she had an unrelated but potentially serious heart condition.

Since visiting Shining Hospital, Sukmaya has seen a lot of reduction of the nodules and swelling. Her pain is more manageable and she hopes to see her condition improve as she continues the course of treatment. Shining Hospital staff were also able to refer her for other tests to determine how best to address her heart condition and support her to navigate an often complex and confusing health system.

When she first learned about her condition, she was nervous and afraid.

“At that time,” she says, “I didn’t know what this disease was or how it could be treated. If we hadn’t come to Shining Hospital I don’t think I could have learned these things nor found a place where I could be treated.”

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