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Caring for the Whole Person

Beyond a Cure:

When a person finds relief from the symptoms of a disease, they can be considered cured. Because leprosy destroys more than a person’s body, the cure for leprosy is holistic and fosters the health and development of the whole person. 

The symptoms of the disease go far beyond the physical indicators of leprosy; there are social implications: poverty issues, disability issues and on-going general health concerns that need to be addressed as part of the cure.

TLMC works with patients to inspire self-sufficiency and empowerment; to cultivate hope where there is none; and to help each patient live a life that is rich and full so that they can find dignity and restoration after a disease that destroys it.
Phase 1

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation 
& Education

Surgery

Surgery

Limbs

Prosthetics & Footwear

Care

Self-Care Groups

Regaining physical function through surgery, assistive devices, physiotherapy and massage is an important part of the recovery process. After medical care, a patient must learn to sustain their own health. TLMC funds education about self-care; and occupational therapy so patients may learn new ways of functioning with disability, and skills to start a life beyond leprosy. Surgical procedures such as tendon transplants to correct clawed hands, nose reconstruction and eye operations to save the blinking reflex help a leprosy-affected person restore  some loss of physical function and to repair the outward scars of leprosy that cause social alienation. When medical care is sought too late, irreversible damage upon limbs can mean amputation is necessary to save the patient's life. Artificial limbs are made specially to fit each person. Many patients receive special soft rubber footwear to help prevent foot ulcers. Groups of leprosy-affected people, with a variety of disabilities, meet on a regular basis to encourage and help each other maintain self-care to avoid further complications, such as ulcers. Self-care groups may evolve beyond physical care and emotional support by becoming self-help groups.
Phase 2

Research

Research

Education

Education & Prevention

Advocacy

Advocacy & Awareness

Empowerment

Empowerment

TLMC supports partners who are working to understand leprosy and its implications better. Areas of TLMC-funded research include vaccination development and understanding how to best reduce the social stigma of the disease. When it is detected at a late stage, or because of treatment complications, leprosy can cause permanent nerve damage, and the inability to produce natural oils that prevent feet from cracking. Loss of sensation leaves a patient vulnerable to injury and infection. Every patient is taught to care for their body, to replenish the oils on their hands and feet, and to address cuts and burns immediately to prevent secondary disability. TLMC works with partners and patients to correct old myths about leprosy with the goal of changing ingrained attitudes and beliefs. Patients and staff work together to educate the family and community to understand that there is no reason to fear the disease because it can be cured. During rehabilitation, the goal for each patient is empowerment, not dependency. TLMC works with partners to help patients develop a vision for the rest of their lives. Ideally, each person will understand their value to their community, and TLMC will support them to find self-worth and respect through skill-building like vocational training or health education.
Phase 3

Self-Help Groups

Self-Help Groups

Low-Cost Housing

Low-Cost Housing

Healthcare

Increased Healthcare

Village

Village to Village Care

Self-Help groups are formed from groups who meet to administer self-care and support one another post treatment. As the members of the self-care group build self-worth by taking ownership for their health, they begin to imagine a life beyond leprosy. TLMC partners empower these groups to develop:
  • Microfinance initiatives; expanding to include other marginalized members of the community
  • Group-led initiatives to develop skills (informal literacy training, family planning education etc.),
  • Group-led community initiatives, i.e. petitioning local authorities to provide much-needed infrastructure for the community.
Leprosy is common in areas where basic human needs go unmet. In poverty stricken villages where there is inadequate shelter, immune systems are low and leprosy spreads easily. Leprosy- affected families experience high levels of poverty and marginalization, they may be ostracized from their village, and find themselves without basic shelter. TLMC, with partners like Habitat for Humanity, and local authorities, offer low-cost housing to people affected by leprosy. TLMC supports the increased capacity for greater medical treatment and care at Mission hospitals. Through our partners, TLMC offers training and education on leprosy detection, treatment and care to government and regional health-care professionals in order to increase timely and effective service-delivery, and to reduce the stigma around the disease. Village to Village Care develops from outward focusing village engaged in Self-Help. Village Alive is a project in Nepal in which one village is mobilized to impact another village, and it all stems from the work of leprosy-affected people who have been empowered through Self-Help groups.
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