The facts:

In the Bogra district of Bangladesh, we have a community development programme that focusses on people affected by leprosy. The FARLeB project was designed to build upon and strengthen the community development aspect of that project. This was a one year project beginning in April of 2015 and so ended in March 2016.

The aim:

The project intended to promote and enable early case detection so that fewer people would have to endure a long-term disability as a result of leprosy.  Finding cases at an earlier stage contributes to the overall objective of reducing the leprosy burden in the Bogra district.

What did we do?

To do this, we trained 24 members of our existing self-help groups to become community champions. As volunteers they would go out into the community educating on the symptoms of leprosy and where to seek treatment. 

As individuals who understand the stigma and mistreatment those with a neglected disease can sometimes have to endure, the champions were able to effectively raise awareness and dispel myths acting as an initial point of contact for someone who may need treatment.

By actively looking for cases it means that we may be able to help more people before a long-term disability sets in.

The figures:

As a result of the project we have been able to:

  • Inform around 36,000 community members about leprosy
  • Conduct 200 health education sessions for self-help groups
  • Conduct health education in 80 schools
  • Detect over 5000 people with signs that could signify leprosy
  • Train 26 core government health personnel involved with the leprosy programme and NLEP in leprosy management

Throughout the project we conducted a series of interviews that were able to show us what affect the education and awareness was having. We found that through our work we were able to:

  • Nearly triple the amount of people who have heard of leprosy over the course of the project
  • People at the end of the project were more able to recognize and / or willing to admit to knowing persons that are affected by leprosy
  • Three quarters (74%) or respondents said there was a cure for leprosy at the end of the project.
  • People are more able to identify correct means of transmission. At the beginning of the project only 4% were able to correctly identify means of transmission while at the end 23% answered correctly.

The knowledge that there is a cure as well that the disease ceases to be contagious very quickly may significantly impact on the inclusion of affected people in their families and communities. Thanks to you we were able to diagnose 176 people through this project. Around a third of those cases were detected by the volunteers which shows how effective it is to have champions working to actively find more cases of leprosy.