The Leprosy Mission Canada, together with American Leprosy Missions, funds two projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Equator North and Equator East.
The Equator North project seeks to:
The Equator East project’s main goals are to:
- Integrate leprosy control activities into the general health delivery system, including training staff on leprosy detection, treatment and prevention of disability. This will help with early detection of leprosy and prevent serious disabilities.
- Implement community based rehabilitation to improve the quality of life of persons affected by leprosy and their families
- Raise awareness of leprosy and related issues in the local community
- Alleviate poverty for people affected by leprosy and their families
Since local medical staffs in Equator East have not been trained in leprosy detection and treatment, leprosy is often detected very late. This means that disabilities due to leprosy are often very severe. There is also no information available to the public about leprosy treatment in this area, and the region has poor transportation infrastructure, so people with leprosy are not able to access or receive treatment for leprosy easily.
- Provide community based leprosy care that reduces the marginalization of people with leprosy
- Carry out health education campaigns for the region
- Train local medical staff in how to treat leprosy and provide them with the necessary medical supplies
- Teach patients with leprosy, and a family member, self-care techniques so that care can be given at home
Both the Equator North and Equator East projects have been very successful in empowering women to generate income for their families and in lessening poverty through providing clean drinking water, electricity, safe housing and opportunities for children to go to school in the local community.
- 7 out of 12 health zones in the Equator East region have been declared endemic for leprosy
- In 2007, a resurgence of leprosy was discovered in areas of Equator North where leprosy had previously been wiped out
- Leprosy is still considered a public health issue in Equator North
- In DR Congo, life expectancy is 46 years for men and 49 years for women
- An estimated 6 million people have died as a result of conflict, hunger and disease in DR Congo since 1998 when a civil war broke out
- DR Congo is home to almost half of Africa’s forests as well as extraordinary mineral wealth
- Only 46% of the population of DR Congo has access to safe drinking water
- 70% of DR Congo's population lives below the poverty line