When it comes to leprosy, there is a cure available.

Multi-drug therapy involves consuming a combination of medication over a 6 to 12 month period. Once the course is completed, that person is infection free and need not worry about any further effects of the disease. However, at the time of treatment they may already have experienced nerve damage and seen permanent disabilities to hands and feet set in. They could even have lost their sight. Therefore, despite being no longer affected by leprosy, it’s difficult to say that a person is cured.

The Cambridge dictionary defines being cured as ‘making someone with an illness healthy again’ [1]. In the case of leprosy, it is hard to evaluate whether an individual who has lost fingers and cannot feel patches on their body that are then prone to burns and cuts, is in fact healthy. After all, such anaesthesia can lead to infections and further ill health.

That’s why we don’t just work with children, women and men until the point that they’ve accessed treatment. We look at their whole life after having experienced leprosy and find ways to help improve it.

We provide reconstructive surgery and physiotherapy services to reduce the burden leprosy may have left. This is one step in increasing the affected person’s chances of resuming their old way of life.

We also set up self-help groups that bring people together who have shared similar experiences and provide training in various skill sets. These, along with the groups’ micro loans, offer an opportunity for a person to set up a small business and earn a living. Being able to do that restores confidence and can help a person re-establish themselves in their community too.

Our protective shoes are also a part of assisting a person after the disease has been treated. They can be customised to individual needs and help to protect any patches of anaesthesia on the feet. This reduces the risk of infection.

Our self-care demonstrations also work towards reducing the risk of infection by showing people how to care for their affected limbs.

Through these activities, we look to relieve some of the burden of having been affected by a neglected disease.

You can read more about our work here.

[1] http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/cure