Through a holistic approach, they have treated and rehabilitated thousands of people despite huge funding cuts and no resident doctors, only a few nurses and physiotherapists. So how has this rehabilitation programme financially and socially sustained itself for so long? The answer is they operate a self-sustaining leprosy control model, which was recently researched by a team of students whose findings have been published here and of which this article is based.
Leprosy patients at LFLH
“The fundamental cause of the sustainability was the leprosy patients’ strong craving for life with dignity, despite the isolation from the society. The desire resulted in a bottom-up formation of a ‘consumer-provider cooperative’, where patients mutually support each other with basic treatment learned from experience.”
At LFLH patients are given residential support through housing nearby to the hospital, and occupational support through jobs provided by LFLH such as dairy farming, scarf making, wound patch making, cooking, and nursing.
“The people who are working in Little Flower Hospital are all leprosy patients. All who are either affected now, or previously affected. Only these people and their family can work. This is social rehabilitation. Except the nurse, every worker is a patient. The cleaning, food making, dressings are all done by the patients or their family.”
The profits earned from the patients’ occupational efforts are shared between the person and the hospital, covering the costs needed to manage the hospital community, which in turn contributes to economical sustainability. With limited professional staff, patients look after each other through the training they have received from the nurses.
LFLH staff tend to a foot ulcer caused by leprosy
Social needs are also met through counselling, free education, medical support, and residential support. All key components that fulfil a person’s mental wellbeing. This truly wholesome care has rehabilitated patients to feel confident entering back into society where they feel included.
Lepra supports LFLH through technical support by way of a doctor, paramedics and customised footwear and aid units. Would you like to be a part of that support too? Donate now and help us to reach more people.