The Leprosy Mission is one of the missions that we support here at St Johns. The money that they receive from us is vital to help those affected by Leprosy. The mission is very appreciative of our support.
Beginning in an Anglican Church prayer meeting in Dublin 140 years ago it is now an international Christian medical and development organisation working in 30 of the world’s poorest countries.
Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to mankind and people with leprosy have been stigmatized and considered to be at the extreme margins of the society.The disease affects mainly the skin, peripheral nerves, upper respiratory tract and the eyes. It damages the nerves on the skin’s surface leaving it without sensation or pain. As no pain is felt burns to fingers and ulcers caused by stepping on stones or glass go unnoticed and can lead to amputation, muscle paralysis and other disabilities. Blindness is also a common consequence caused by the inability to detect grit in the eye.
Leprosy rates would be significantly reduced in the world today were it not still shrouded in age-old stigma. Three million people would not be living with irreversible disabilities as a result of late treatment of the disease.
Changing those attitudes and increasing public awareness of the fact that leprosy can now be easily cured with multidrug therapy remains a challenge.
A quarter of a million people are diagnosed with leprosy each year, a figure considered to be grossly underreported by the Leprosy Mission
- Did you know there are still leprosy colonies in the world today where people are ‘sent’ or ‘seek refuge’? There are 850 in India.
- Did you know that stigma surrounding leprosy in many parts of the world today is akin to what it was during Biblical times? Even beggars begging for their own survival will often shun a leprosy-affected person.
Did you know that leprosy is completely curable with a simple combination of antibiotics? Yet 85 per cent of people in Delhi, India – the country where more than half of the world’s new leprosy cases are diagnosed - still believe there is no cure.
The tragedy is when leprosy is ‘hidden’. It damages and disables, slowly destroying each aspect of a person’s life. If it wasn’t for stigma and misunderstandings surrounding leprosy then people would seek treatment and all healthcare professionals would recognise its symptoms.
Here is an example of the devastating impact of the disease and the vital difference our support can make to the lives of those suffering from leprosy:
Hawa from Borameda in Ethiopia went to school and studied until Grade 8 but then dropped out because her hand began to claw and she was finding it difficult to write. Her friends, when they saw her clawed hand, stopped including her in their group. She was depressed and decided it was better to stay away. She spent a few years going from doctor to doctor to try to find out the cause of the patches on her skin and the stiffness in her hands and was finally diagnosed with leprosy when she was 16. She was given a year’s course of treatment but although the bacteria are dead and she is not infectious, she is severely disabled by leprosy due to late diagnosis and treatment. The ALERT* hospital in Addis Ababa will however now be able to operate on her clawed hands and eye which will transform her life.
(*All Africa Leprosy, Tuberculosis and Rehabilitation Training Centre (ALERT) is Ethiopia's main leprosy hospital, and offers training courses to help medical personnel increase their leprosy expertise)
As well as providing healthcare, the Leprosy Mission offers rehabilitation, education, vocational training, small business loans, housing and fresh water supplies and sanitation to tens of thousands of people each year. They provide a springboard to restored health, self-sufficiency and renewed hope. Their services are provided regardless of religion or ethnicity, promoting equality and social justice.
We look forward to welcoming Martin Pitman from the Leprosy mission as our guest preacher on the 5th June at both the 8am and 10am services to update us on the work they are doing.
Thank you for your continued support.