The Leprosy Mission Canada focues on providing health care, education, rehabilitation and training to people affected by leprosy through the Dhaka Leprosy Care and Community Based Rehabilitation projects in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Dhaka Leprosy Care project focuses on addressing the high prevalence of leprosy in the city's slums. By improving the general health system of this area, leprosy can be treated in the local community. In an average year, about 600 new cases of leprosy will be diagnosed and treated. In the picture below, a care provider is using a piece of cotton to determine if this man has lost feeling in his limbs - an early sign of leprosy.
Activities in the Dhaka Leprosy Care project include:
- Increase early case detection
- MDT and leprosy services integrated within hospitals, including necessary capacity building of local health officials to achieve integration
- Prevention and minimization of disability due to leprosy
- Educating the local community about leprosy
The availability of health focused education is low in Dhaka, so there is a great need to strengthen communication links to the public. The Leprosy Mission Canada sponsors an on-going public awareness campaign to spread facts about leprosy and eliminate misinformation, thus addressing the problem of stigma.
The Dhaka Community Based Rehabilitation project works to form support groups for people with leprosy and their families in order to help people with leprosy empower themselves, solve their own problems and become contributing members of their community. The leaders of these groups are also trained in how to help themselves and the members of their groups with issues like simple ulcer care, basic health and hygiene concerns and support with starting and managing a small business. About 4000 leprosy affected people directly benefit from this project.
Activities specific to the Dhaka Community Based Rehabilitation project include:
- Community groups development and support;
- Awareness raising within the community;
- Capacity building of group members; and
- Socio-economic development.
Reaching every patient before leprosy causes disability is imperative. By focusing on community health initiatives, the people of Dhaka can have accessible health care and increased education about leprosy.
Shahida: A New Life
Shahida lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She knows the truth about leprosy. Shahida has ulcers on her feet and swollen disfiguration in her face. When she first developed leprosy, her husband threatened to leave because he feared for his own life and the rejection they would face from the community because Shahida has leprosy.
Instead, because he truly loved his wife, he agreed to visit the staff at the Dhaka Leprosy Care Project to learn more about this disease. The staff counseled the couple and reassured Shahida's husband that leprosy can be cured! He had nothing to fear.
After her treatment, the Leprosy Care Project staff helped Shahida acquire a small business loan and open a tea stall. The business is going well and Shahida's husband is very proud of his wife's accomplishments. This new life was only possible because of the ongoing generosity of Leprosy Mission Canada supporters.