The project

Initiated in April 2016, the Reaching the Unreached project has already seen concrete results within in just one year. Working in collaboration with RDRS Bangladesh and the Dhanjuri Leprosy Centre, our project aims are to raise awareness and to improve the lives of people affected by leprosy and lymphatic filariasis (LF) in Bangladesh.

One year on, we are already seeing big improvements.

While there is still much more work to be done, we look forward to seeing further positive developments until the completion of the project in March 2019.

Sajeron, pictured above now walks without pain thanks to the protective footwear she received from this project

Big steps towards managing lymphatic filariasis

Unfortunately there is currently no known cure for lymphatic filariasis (LF). With early detection being the key to stopping the disease from progressing, our project aims to find patients in the early stages of their disease and teach ways managing LF through self-care groups and clinics.

The practises taught are simple yet extremely effective in keeping the symptoms of LF at bay. Prevention techniques include cleaning and drying feet properly, wearing protective footwear and regularly massaging the limb to reduce swelling. With a lack of access to health education in Bangladesh, these simple methods are often unknown to those suffering from the disease.

Within the first 12 months of our project, the percentage of people suffering from "LF attacks" dropped from 79% to 66%. "LF attacks" often last many days, people’s symptoms flare up and they experience a fever which confines them to their bed. However the introduction of simple self-care techniques, accompanied by general health education, has effectively reduced the number of people experiencing attacks, thereby improving people’s well-being and ability to earn a steady income.  

Supporting people to overcome poverty

The effects of leprosy and LF can make it hard for people affected to go to work. Struggling with the symptoms of these diseases, the days which are taken off from work affects household income significantly. Often, people affected by LF or leprosy live in poverty; in fact within our project, 73% of people affected by leprosy and 60% of people living with LF are living below the poverty line (earning less than £40 a month). Therefore losing even a day’s income can dramatically affect their lives, pushing them into further poverty, and leaving them struggling to support themselves and their families.

Through our project’s actions in care, the people we are working with who have been affected by leprosy, have found the number of work days they lose each month has fallen from 6 to 3 days. While people living with LF have found their lost working days have fallen from 5 days to 4 in just one year. Ultimately, this translates into an increase in income of 13% for families affected by leprosy, and 6% for families affected by LF.

There is still work to be done

With over 1,500 people affected by leprosy and/or LF attending our self-care groups there have been a vast number of enhancements in self-care and preventative measures.

However there is still work to do.

What we hope to achieve

Going into the project’s second year, we look to build upon our achievements from year 1. By the end of this project we expect to see:

• The impact of leprosy and LF on individuals to be significantly reduced
• The quality of life for impoverished women, men, girls and boys further improved
• The access to quality healthcare and early detection services increased

This will help to reduce the transmission of leprosy & LF, lower the morbidity rate, and decrease the chances of complications that may arise as a result of the disease.

Please help us to reach these objectives

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