Many people believe that leprosy is just a disease of ancient times that was occasionally mentioned in the Bible. But the reality, for many millions, is that it is still a devasting disease of today.
St Francis Leprosy Guild is passionate about finally ending leprosy throughout the world, and is offering insightful Zoom talks to Rotary groups about their experiences of working with leprosy-affected people.
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Over 200,000 people are newly detected with leprosy every year, but this number only includes those who are found and diagnosed.
Millions more go undiagnosed, spreading infection within their communities or living with the devasting effects of the disease and consequences.
Leprosy causes more disability than any other infectious disease.”
Leprosy is a disease of the nerves which causes a lack of sensation in peripheral parts of the body such as the hands and feet. This lack of sensation easily leads to unintentional injury, chronic ulcers and, if left untreated, clawing of hands and feet, amputation, and blindness.
Leprosy causes more disability than any other infectious disease. It is also one of the most stigmatised diseases on earth.
How often have you heard the word leper used in a derogatory fashion?
A leprosy diagnosis is a life sentence for some, often considered a curse from God and the result of sin. Many people with leprosy are thrown out of their homes, communities, or forced to leave their employment leading to a life of begging.
Hundreds of leprosy communities, formally known as colonies, still exist in remote locations throughout the world where people, ostracised by leprosy, live out the rest of their lives.
In this way, a lifetime of disability and stigma can be avoided.”
However, all is not lost. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium, mycobacterium leprae and it can be completely cured by a combination of antibiotics, called multidrug therapy (MDT). MDT is readily available throughout the world where the disease is endemic to treat people with leprosy if they can be found and diagnosed.
St Francis Leprosy Guild has cared for people with leprosy for over 125 years and its current operating strategy emphasises active case-finding and early detection followed by treatment with MDT.
In this way, a lifetime of disability and stigma can be avoided.
The charity believes that training, research, active case-finding, healthcare, and emergency relief will put an end to leprosy. So, for the first time in centuries, an end to leprosy is within sight. St Francis Leprosy Guild is determined to play its part and with Rotary’s help, we can do it.
St Francis Leprosy Guild would welcome the chance to tell Rotarians more about leprosy and how we are working to put a stop to it.