Earlier this year we conducted research to assess the leprosy situation in Bangladesh. Last year, 3,140 new cases of leprosy were detected in Bangladesh, of whom 166 (5%) were children and 340 (11%) were already severely disabled.

The research took place in ten districts, which were selected randomly in proportion to population size from high, medium and low endemic areas of the country.

The research found that there was a very low level of knowledge about the key signs and symptoms of leprosy. Although 80 per cent knew leprosy is curable, only 1 per cent could describe the signs and symptoms.

Even when people attend local healthcare centres, there is little guarantee that general health staff are qualified to diagnose and treat them.

Shockingly, in the general health system, 75 per cent of doctors and health staff had received no training on leprosy and 42 per cent didn’t know about Multi-Drug Therapy (the course of treatment to cure leprosy).

The declaration of leprosy being ‘eliminated’(less than 10 cases per 100,000 population) as a public health problem has led to a severe cut in training, resources and funding.

Beyond the inadequacies of medical support, prejudice is still rife surrounding leprosy. Over half of the people asked disagreed that people affected by leprosy should be respected like any other person in society.

Leprosy continues to act as a barrier to education and employment. Eleven per cent of the people affected by leprosy had discontinued their education; the main reason for this was disability. In addition to this, almost a third were not able to work due to disability.

Poverty is both a cause and consequence of leprosy and families are driven deeper into it by the lack of education and income.

With your support we can make vast improvements and give a better life to people affected by leprosy.

Join us to Beat leprosy

If you would like to read the full summary of the research then you can download it here