Every day, around the word more than 600 people are diagnosed with leprosy, more than 50 of these will be children. This makes it approximately 1 case every 2 minutes. Or to put in numbers, it is expected that this year 2,40,000 people will be diagnosed with leprosy. Out of these 1,40,000 will be in India which is approximately 60% of the cases in the world. It is learnt that the unofficial figures may be 2 or 3 times this number. This is an alarming fact !
Leprosy continues to spread, partially due to its long incubation period, widespread ignorance and misinformation about the symptoms and effects of the disease. Stigma against this disease due to its disfigurement causes its victims to be isolated and shunned. Leprosy causes problems in interpersonal relationships, affects economic security, and compromised mental health and wellbeing. This disease is also the leading cause of permanent disability in the world and is primarily a disease of the poor.
Over 7 million people are currently affected by leprosy across the world. Leprosy is a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) which attacks the nerves. The first sign of leprosy is usually a patch of discoloured numb skin. It's curable but left untreated it causes life-changing permanent damage to hands, feet and eyes, leading to paralysis, blindness, ulcers and amputations. Evidence shows over 3 million people are living with undiagnosed leprosy. Over 4 million people are living with a life-changing disability caused by leprosy.
How is Leprosy Transmitted - This is thought to be transmitted through nasal droplets and involves long-term contact with someone who has the disease.
How is leprosy diagnosed - Leprosy has many symptoms and as a result, there are varying methods used to diagnose the disease.
How is leprosy diagnosed - Leprosy has many different symptoms and as a result, there are varying methods used to diagnose.
How is leprosy cured - It is completely curable through a course of multi-drug therapy (MDT) for 6 months or a year. Many affected by the disease are unaware that the cure even exists.
Lepra UK is a UK-based international charity working to beat leprosy. They work directly with communities in India and other countries to find, diagnose and rehabilitate people affected by leprosy. Through raising awareness, pushing for early detection and reducing prejudice they support people so they can transform their lives. They are working towards a day when leprosy no longer destroys lives.
Lepra is proud to have the Queen as their patron and The Duke of Gloucester as their Vice President. The Duke of Gloucester is The Queen's cousin and a full-time working member of the Royal Family.
Lepra UK approached Rotary in India through Rotary Club Delhi South for this fight against Leprosy. Rotary Club Delhi South will be the lead club for this project and is involving other Rotary Clubs for joining in.
Against the above backdrop and information, Rotary Club Delhi South and other Clubs have decided to tie up with Lepra UK to address the challenge posed by Leprosy in India by:
1. Conducting nation-wide awareness campaigns about the disease and disseminating information about the availability of free treatment to the affected.
2. Detecting potential cases of leprosy and referring the affected individuals to the government centres for confirmation of cases and the subsequent free treatment;
through a Memorandum of Understanding being entered into with Lepra UK.
The Rotary Project falls under the Area of Focus - "Disease prevention and treatment" and will involve the following and the project funds will be used for the activities below. Not only will most of our club members, but also members of Rotary Clubs across India eventually who are going to be part of this project, will be involved for Awareness Creation and Social Mobilisation and Detection as follows:-
Creating Awareness and Social Mobilisation:
- Creating demand among the populace to avail of free supply of diagnostics aids and treatment.
- Appeal to Ulema to ensure Muslims avail of free facilities.
- Banners, Posters, Caps, Flags, Streamers, Miking
- Utilising festivals to propagate message.
- Street Plays, Flash Mobs.
- Overcoming myths and superstitions to dispel the stigma attached to the disease.
- Videos over Cable TV networks, in Cinema Halls, Radio messages
- Advertising at Cricket/ Kabaddi matches
- Political, Bureaucratic and Religious Advocacy.
- Messages from celebrities.
- Presentation in Schools/ Colleges through Interact and Rotracts.
- Utilising vast network of Doctors in Rotary.
- Case Detection Camps.
- Directing community to Free Government Dispensaries and Primary Health Centres
- Tie up with the Indian Medical Council and leading hospitals.
This is a sustainable project over many years and Rotary Club Delhi South is seeking to raise funds from Global Grants.