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St Francis and Lepra Staff St Francis and Lepra staff

Lepra and St Francis Leprosy Guild work together to provide nutrition to vulnerable people in India

15 February 2021

During the COVID-19 crisis, many people affected by leprosy lost their livelihoods and with little or no savings to fall back on, these families were on the verge of starvation.

Lepra and St Francis Leprosy Guild quickly identified this serious threat and formulated an emergency plan to help those people at the bottom of the forgotten rung! Between December 2020 and January 2021, the partnership delivered a coordinated and collaborative response to 1,000 of the most vulnerable families in five districts across Madhya Pradesh, a large state in central India. In this state alone, the annual leprosy case detection rate is more than 15 per 100,000 people. The project enabled the delivery of emergency kits containing dry food supplies and self-care/ hygiene kits.

The team, comprising staff from both organisations, National Leprosy Eradication Programme District Officers and community volunteers, also provided people with important information about leprosy and the signs and symptoms of the disease. Lepra’s two Referral Centre’s, the St Joseph Leprosy Centre and Sendhwa Centre were crucial for kit storage and for identifying people in need.

With COVID-19 impacting people’s ability to travel, community information sessions such as these are vital for people with suspected leprosy, allowing them to receive an early diagnosis and immediate treatment. Clare McIntosh, Director of St Francis Leprosy Guild says:

“For 125 years, St Francis Leprosy Guild has provided relief and assistance to people affected by the scourge of leprosy throughout the world.  COVID-19 has created unprecedented crises for these communities.  Through this initiative we are combining our forces with Lepra to promptly and adequately bring relief to the world’s poorest.”