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This week, severe rain has caused extreme flooding throughout Bihar in India, killing hundreds and devastating the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable people. The number is increasing daily.
Approximately 2000 people with leprosy or lymphatic filariasis (LF) are in danger across four districts, with many losing access to essential medicines, specialised footwear and the necessary support systems.
Chief Executive of Lepra India, Ashim Chowla, has said that the flooding presents an exceptional challenge in Lepra’s efforts to help those already facing crisis due to their leprosy diagnoses.
He says “There are large disparities across India between the rich and the poor. Bihar gets no attention during times of natural disaster compared to the larger cities around India. The situation in Bihar is abysmal. Even one person losing their life is a tragedy and hundreds have already died in Bihar since the flooding began.''
The healthcare system in Bihar, already struggling due to overcrowding, underfunding and a lack of resources, has buckled following the weather emergency.
There are fears that those affected by diseases like leprosy or LF will not be able to seek treatment.
A person affected by leprosy or LF receives two pairs of custom made sandals each year to facilitate their mobility. These sandals are prepared by our specialist shoe technicians after careful examination by a physiotherapist and are tailor-made according to exact measurements and disability.
Working together with a physiotherapist, the shoe technician will take someone’s measurements and design a customised pair of sandals.
You can read more about our protective sandals here
Our partnership with Pavers shoes has allowed us to construct these special shoes and access those in need through a Mobile Foot Care unit, but the weather has destroyed a significant amount of our specialised shoes and rendered our vans useless.
Those affected by leprosy are among the most vulnerable members of society and often, the shoes are the only thing enabling them to live independently.
Raw sewerage and dirty water have flooded people’s homes and villages, decimating their livelihoods and exposing leprosy patients to severe infections like cholera and filariasis.
Just £6 can provide a person with a brand new pair of specialised footwear.