The purchase of PCR equipment has been made possible through your donations, but we must continue in our quest to simultaneously help those affected by leprosy and understand more about COVID-19. The crisis has created an even steeper divide for those with leprosy within Indian society. Many thousands of people that suffer from leprosy live in crowded conditions, with a lack of clean water, low disease immunity and a lack of basic medical facilities – conditions which make ideal environments for infectious disease transmission. Where it is safe to do so, our teams continue to work tirelessly, supporting local health systems to combat a range of issues including information and education around social distancing and personal hygiene practices.
Alongside this, issues around the supply and distribution of food and medical supplies have become urgent matters, and one of the biggest challenges that people with leprosy now face is accessing the medication that they so heavily rely on.
There remains a very tangible link between those with leprosy, and their impaired immune function, and the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. As supply chain shortages have become a global issue, our colleagues in India have been working hard to ensure the continued distribution of MDT to people affected by leprosy. The number of people accessing our patient's clinics across India has decreased due to lockdown and government restrictions.
One woman in Bihar, the state that regularly ranks lowest for Public Health conditions across India, who has been severely affected by the MDT supply chain shortages, expresses thanks for access to her life-changing leprosy medication:
“I have not had medicine for the last 12 days, it has been so difficult. I feared I would never be cured of this disease, but now I have 3 months of medicine and now have nothing to fear.”
While we are playing a vital role in this important supply chain, we are also ensuring access to nutritious food and hygiene kits for those affected by the financial and health consequences of the pandemic. India shares a quarter of the global hunger burden, a statistic that was concluded by the United Nations long before COVID-19 became a very real and serious threat. Historically, India has suffered from an inability of government programmes to bridge the ever-widening gap poverty and inequality has caused. Lepra has intervened and collaborates with local and state government bodies to stem the tide. Unfortunately, people affected by leprosy often slip through the gaps in government programmes and particularly migrant workers who are ineligible for state issues ration cards. During the COVID-19 crisis, Lepra has stepped into that void and helped people weather the storm.
You can support our teams in their vital health intervention work by making a donation online with a credit card, debit card, or PayPal on the website, by calling us at 07410 090409 or 01206 216700, by texting LEPRA followed by your donation amount to 70500, or by sending a cheque to Lepra, 28 Middleborough, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1TG. You can also support our work using a CAF account, or by donating directly via a bank transfer. For questions regarding ways of supporting, including our bank details or how your support can enable our vital work to continue, please call and chat to our Head of Resources, on 01206 216700.
Lepra is evidence-led, research-driven and committed to helping those who cannot help themselves by empowering them, educating them and dispelling prejudice. We need your help to continue doing this during COVID-19.