Rural Health Programs in Northern Bangladesh
The northern part of Bangladesh is one of the poorest parts of a poor country. Most of the people in this area are landless agricultural laborers, small landowners doing subsistence farming, small businesses owners, or casual daily workers.
The Leprosy Mission Canada is working to eradicate leprosy through the Rural Health Program, whose aim is to help people in the region manage their own health needs and problems. Special emphasis is placed on providing quality services to people with leprosy.
One aspect of the Rural Health Program is the Leprosy Control Project, which seeks to reduce the suffering among people affected by leprosy by raising public awareness about leprosy and integrating leprosy care into the basic health care services of the area. As well, the project works to help people seek appropriate medical advice and treatment early in order to receive the best care possible to become fully cured of leprosy. This project also advocates for the human rights of people with disabilities.
Another aspect of the Rural Health Program is the Extreme Poverty Initiative Project (EPIP). This project's primary goal is to help people who have been affected by leprosy to live above the extreme poverty line in their home community through small business planning and community based vocational training. Examples of people assisted by the project include those marginalized in the community due to stigmatization and/or those who have a leprosy-related disability. Extreme poverty is defined as the inability to secure the food equivalent of 2,000 calories a day for themselves.
- Fewer than 1 in 4 residents of this region can read
- Over 30% of people with leprosy related disabilities live below the extreme poverty line
- Over 70% of the workers in this Muslim area are farmers
- Over 3500 health workers in all 24 sub-districts in the area have been trained in leprosy care
- Over 400,000 people have been educated about leprosy through community education activities
Examples of how TLMC Changes Lives
Motiur Rahman is a young man who completed leprosy treatment in November 2003. Due to leprosy, both of his feet were damaged by ulcers. Through the Extreme Poverty Initiative Program, Motiur and his family (his mother and brother) were able to receive a tube well, giving them access to clean, fresh water. Motiur would like to take tailoring classes through the Vocational Training Centre program after his ulcers heal.
Mr. Molin Chandra Das is 44 years old. He completed leprosy treatment in April 1994, but he has badly deformed hands and feet due to leprosy. Through the community program in Northern Bangladesh, Mr. Molin, his wife and their son and daughter received a cow to help them generate income for their family.
Arif is 13 years old. He completed leprosy treatment in May 2007, but he has foot drop on his right foot. He has plans to get reconstructive surgery from The Leprosy Mission Bangladesh’s DBLM Hospital. He is now able to attend school because of a scholarship provided through the community program – an opportunity his widowed mother would not be able to afford for him or his 3 older brothers.