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.