The lives of 120,000 of the poorest people in India will be changed because of £487,000 awarded from the Big Lottery Fund to Lepra. 

The award will fund 84% of a new project – Restoring Lives of Forgotten People -  in the Samastipur district in Bihar state. 

Sarah Nancollas, Chief Executive comments:
“Over five years, local Lepra staff and community partners will raise awareness about lymphatic filariasis and leprosy, tackle the persisting stigma, improve sanitation and hygiene and promote self-care to people and their families affected by the diseases.”

In 465 villages, 116,000 people with LF and 4,000 people with leprosy will benefit from the improved skills of public health staff and rural medical practitioners.  People with lymphatic filariasis (LF, sometimes known as elephantiasis) and leprosy need long-term care, representation and support. 

Lepra and other stakeholders believe that an holistic approach is the best way to tackle the complex health, economic and social issues associated with these diseases. 

Lepra’s experience of an integrated approach to LF and leprosy has proved successful in enabling people to lead healthier, more productive and self-sufficient lives.   Sam Utthan, a representative group of people affected by leprosy,  will help in motivating people to participate in 250 self-support groups for people affected by either disease. Training modules in self-care practices will be translated into Hindi and Bhojpuri.

At the start of the project in April 2015, a baseline survey will map the 120,000 people affected by LF and leprosy.  Training of more than 2,000 medical officers, paramedical staff, nurses, community health workers, village leaders of health committees and staff of local community-based organisations will be part of the first year’s activities.

The project will work with 1,000 rural medical practitioners and traditional doctors, linking them with the Indian government’s referral system and other services.  School children and teachers will be targeted through an awareness-raising school health programme.

Hydrocoele (swelling in the scrotum), a symptom of LF, affects 49,000 men living in Samastipur district.  Currently, less than 1% of them receive treatment. Many of them are ashamed, depressed and in great pain, with restricted mobility.  This project will ensure that up to 25,000 hydrocoelectomies are available and raise awareness of this simple surgical procedure.