Rani Kumari became an ASHA with the prime intent of supporting and creating awareness within her community about disease and health. Most of Rani’s community members, particularly women, are illiterate and they are very poor, which has led them to neglect their health.
Rani wanted to do something for her community members by creating access to health services and ensuring they receive government health benefits.
Rani undertakes a range of work for her role at ASHA including referring suspected cases of leprosy to the Primary health Centre for diagnosis and treatment and provides a link for those in need and treatment.
Rani is also involved in the MDA campaign for the distribution of DEC and Albendazole. Rani also refers the persons at MMDP clinic for acute attack and ulcer treatment. As a result, the affected persons are getting the opportunity for treatment and they also receive vital footwear from the MMDP clinic. Rani also prioritises improving immunisation and promotion of institutional delivery are other key responsibilities.
An important part of Rani’s role is motivating women to seek help and participate in self-help groups.
Ways in which Rani does this, is organising monthly self-support groups where Rani promotes self-care management like skincare, wound care, exercise, the importance and use of protective footwear, and proper counselling for affected people. Rani also ensures a follow up of people undergoing treatment.
There are many challenges facing women diagnosed with leprosy or LF, besides the medical aspects, mainly due to pressures of social, financial crunches and fear. Sometimes it is difficult to get the proper support of family members, due to the stigma associated with leprosy and LF. If the women are affected by disability, they might be divorced and discriminated against by their family.
Rani works with LEPRA to organise a camp at the village level for the affected persons of LF, hydrocele and leprosy, that provides support with self-care demonstrations and footwear distributions for these women. When on field visits, Rani and LEPRA engage in the recognition of complications such as reactions, neuritis and referring people to the PHC for further management. Similarly, in LF affected persons, entry lesions and acute attack cases are referred to MMDP Centre for management.
Rani ensures the advocacy of women’s rights by educating the women’s group for the right to equality, education, and healthy life. Moreover, there is a moral support program for health promotion and accessing services of the health facility by the affected persons.
As a result, Rani and LEPRA have been able to transform the lives of people affected by leprosy and LF. LEPRA is committed to creating awareness among the community, capacity building of stakeholders, and linking of social welfare department for Bihar Shatabdi Kusth Kalyan Yojana (BSKKY) pension of affected persons with grade 2 disability cases of leprosy.
Lepra is grateful for people like Rani, working to make her community a better place and we wish to support her and others as much as possible in the future.