Two Minutes? #GuestPost #CharityTuesday

Posted on 13th September 2011 in #charitytuesday/ #guestpost/ LEPRA Health in Action/ leprosy

For #charitytuesday, please see below a Guest Post from Nicolette Dawson, Communications Officer, LEPRA Health in Action. Please note one of the images is quite graphic.

 

Two minutes? “NO! Surely not!”

What a lovely surprise to come in to a twitter request for a #CharityTuesday guest post from fellow Colchester girl @CoffeeCurls.

First thought for me of course, how do I make what we do relevant for CoffeeCurls readers? I cast my mind back to the first day I drove past the imposing red brick building that is now my workday home. I looked up at the sign as I passed thinking, “What does ‘LEPRA’ stand for? Surely not ‘leprosy’? In Colchester? What’s that all about?”

Now, two years later, when I talk about where I work I find people are often surprised to hear (as I was) that leprosy even still exists. Let alone that every two minutes, somewhere, someone, like teenager Seema is diagnosed with leprosy.

The question people tend to ask (once they have picked themselves off the floor and finished saying things like “NO! Surely not!” – in response to the two minute statistic) is, is it curable?

Leprosy has been curable since the 1980’s with drugs available free to governments through the World Health Organisation; if diagnosed early and treated properly, as in Seema’s case; leprosy should leave no lasting damage.

But still, in too many cases it has and continues to do so. Despite this, there are no major funding sources for preventing the transmission of the disease and the disability it causes. (That’s where you and I come in)

So what’s the issue?

So then they ask, “If the drugs are free why does leprosy continue to be such a problem?”

The answer? The fight against a disease like leprosy goes beyond the availability of a cure. A lack of specialist skills, referral services and laboratory testing facilities in endemic countries and fear of repercussions means that too many people don’ get the early diagnosis they need.

This means that despite it being curable leprosy is still leaving children and adults blind, visibly disfigured or unable to use their hands or feet. In addition to this millions of people have been left permanently disabled and require specialist services that may not be available.

LEPRA is committed to reducing the burden of leprosy. It costs around £21 for us to change the life of someone affected by leprosy. It is only with help from people like you that we can continue to prevent and reverse the needless damage it still causes to individual lives and livelihoods.

P.S. did you know that every two minutes someone is diagnosed with leprosy?

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3 Comments

  • Reply Karen Bellerby 13th September 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Great article,well written. Nice feature. thanks

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 13th September 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Thank you – if you’d like to submit a #charitytuesday article yourself do let me know.

  • Reply Madhavi Sakuru, Programmes Officer, LEPRA Health in Action, Colchester, UK 13th September 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I have just returned from a two-week trip to LEPRA’s projects in India in my new role as Programmes Officer. Being an Indian myself, this was my first ever interaction with people living with leprosy whom I have otherwise seen begging at every traffic light in the city of Hyderabad. Their de-humanised existence is apalling as is the apathy of passers-by. As has been written several times, leprosy is not just a malady of the body but a disease of the soul. Stigma and discrimination against people infected with leprosy is still rampant in India where they are pushed to the outskirts of villages, towns and cities, housed in leprosy colonies where we don’t need to see them or get to know that they even exist. Amidst this apathy, LEPRA India’s efforts in giving hope and dignity to people infected with leprosy while working closely with the National Leprosy Eradication Programme is truly commendable. I met one of the boys in the picture above (second from left), Dinesh who after undergoing a reconstructive surgery in his clawed hands confidently displays his normal hands which, in the past he would always hide in his pockets. It is these efforts made by some of the most committed and dedicated professionals in the industry that include a band of emminent doctors, experienced development practitioners, dilligent social workers and selfless community workers that lends credibility to the work of LEPRA in India. I am so proud to be a part of this family. However, growing concerns of 200,000 new cases of leprosy every year, relapse in many patients and drug-resistance strains of leprosy do not allow us to celebrate a moment of success yet. Leprosy is far from being eradicated in India and we need more minds, more hands and even greater resources in the fight against this disease and the unnecessary suffering it brings with it.

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