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Media Fact Sheet: The Leprosy Mission Canada

Revised February 2014

The Organization:

Few Canadians realize that leprosy still exists and would be surprised to learn that every two minutes someone will discover they have the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that in 2011 there were 228,747 new diagnosed cases of leprosy.

The Leprosy Mission Canada (TLMC) has been working with people affected by leprosy since 1892. It has served thousands of people in more than 30 countries with life-changing treatment and rehabilitation. TLMC is a Christian medical mission which helps those affected by leprosy regardless of race, creed, religion or gender. Motivated by their faith, TLMC staff focus on providing the aid that is needed.

The Disease:

Leprosy is a disease that has plagued mankind since before biblical times. Also called Hansen's Disease, it attacks the nervous system and numbs those extremities in the cooler parts of the body - the hands, feet and face. The most common symptom is discoloured patches of skin that lose their sensitivity. If left untreated, leprosy can cause the fingers and toes to claw inward, the eyes to lose their ability to blink, therefore causing blindness and permanent ulcers and infections. Ulcers and infections in the hands and feet occur because when no pain is felt, cuts, bruises and burns are ignored.

The Cure:

When TLMC was established, there was no cure. Natural remedies were used to alleviate some of the discomfort, but it wasn't until 1982 that a revolutionary medical discovery was made widely available. A combination of three separate medications (Dapsone, Clofazimine and Rifampicin), known as Multi-Drug Therapy, will kill the bacteria that causes leprosy.

Cost of the Cure: $396 per patient. This cost covers education, distribution of medication and essential ongoing support, including necessary surgery, rehabilitation, vocational training and assistance in community reintegration.

Leprosy in the World

In Asia, Africa and Latin America, leprosy is an active public health problem. For generations people have feared leprosy, attaching severe social stigma to people who have the disease. Thousands of patients are rejected by their families and friends and ostracized by the communities in which they live. The age-old prejudice associated with the disease continues to devastate people when they find out they have leprosy. Poverty and lack of medical care compound the problems.

Leprosy Myths:

Myth: Leprosy is caused by immoral behaviour - it's a curse.
Truth: Leprosy is an infectious disease prevalent in areas of the world made vulnerable by high levels of poverty and malnutrition. The disease is caused by a germ, not a punishment or a curse.

Myth: Leprosy is incurable.
Truth: With Multi-Drug Therapy, leprosy can be cured.

Myth: The disease spreads by touching someone with leprosy.
Truth: 90 to 95 percent of people are naturally immune to the disease. For those at risk, prolonged exposure to droplets from sneezing and coughing by an infected person can cause the disease to spread. Research is ongoing to determine if leprosy is transmitted in other ways.

Myth: Nobody gets leprosy anymore.
Truth: Every year, hundreds of thousands of new cases of leprosy are detected.

Fund Raising:

In 2013, TLMC raised approximately $7 million. The Mission abides by the Canada Revenue Agency rules specifying how much may be spent on fundraising and administration.

TLMC is a member of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC) and displays the CCCC Seal of Accountability on its materials and website. This Seal indicates that the Mission adheres to the CCCC code of ethics and is certified by an on-site audit every two years. For a donor, this means that the Mission operates ethically and with integrity, respecting the donor’s wishes and ensuring that the donor’s funds are used in the most effective and efficient manner possible. For more information on the CCCC, go to www.cccc.org.

New donors are acquired through 30 minute television programs, as well as 2 and 1 minute television commercials. A donor receives regular updates on a schedule determined by their preferences. When appropriate there are emergency mailings. TLMC also accepts legacies and bequests.

TLMC reaches out to churches with Sunday School programs. Pete the Pig is one such program where children collect money in a Piggy bank. It is believed that the original Pete the Pig was the world's first piggy bank.

There are volunteer programs where the volunteers create events to raise funds. TLMC produces a popular Christmas gift catalogue that offers gifts made by leprosy affected people along with traditional gifts.

On the fourth Sunday of January, Canadians take part in a worldwide effort to eradicate leprosy. On World Leprosy Day, Canadian churches pray and take a special collection from their congregations to support a cure for leprosy victims.

Cured not Cursed is a youth program that takes place throughout the year in both churches and schools.

TLMC staff are engaged in public speaking engagements to church and community groups. The organization also works with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for long term funding of projects.

Website:

www.leprosy.ca

National Office:

The Leprosy Mission Canada
90 Allstate Parkway, Suite 200
Markham, Ontario
L3R 6H3
CANADA

Media Information:

E-mail rcollett@leprosy.ca to receive news releases and other media material electronically. E-mail addresses will be kept confidential and will not be released to any other parties.

For further information, please contact:

Peter Derrick
Executive Director
The Leprosy Mission Canada
Tel: 905.886.2885 
E-mail: info@leprosy.ca

Rebecca Collett
Communications and Advocacy Specialist
The Leprosy Mission Canada
Tel: 905.886.2885 
E-mail: rcollett@leprosy.ca




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