Reaching the unreached The facts: This project’s technical title is ‘Reaching the unreached: A participatory approach empowering women to prevent disability as a result of leprosy and lymphatic filariasis in rural Bangladesh.’ It is a new project that began in April of 2016 and will take place over three years until 2019 across seven Bangladesh districts. It will work to improve the lives of those living with leprosy and lymphatic filariasis. This project is partly funded by UK Aid from the British people. The aim: This project has many aims, one of which is to help more people understand how diseases such as leprosy and LF are transmitted, how they can be prevented, what the symptoms are and what treatment is available. The project will also train people affected by leprosy or LF, especially those with disabilities, how to take good care of themselves. They will receive the necessary knowledge, skills and tools to practice self-care. What exactly are we doing? To do this we will use a participatory approach which means we will be empowering women within communities to detect the early signs of leprosy and lymphatic filariasis. We will train them to detect the diseases and as women they will be able to access more women who may have one such disease. Many women don’t receive the treatment they need because they cannot be examined by a male or have to be accompanied to a clinic by a male companion. Having female community champions means that we can access those women more easily and provide access to treatment at an earlier stage. We will also be teaching self-care practices within communities and working with the existing healthcare services to improve detection and the access people have to screening services and treatment. The figures: The project will benefit approximately 100,000 children, women and men That figure includes community members, especially women, in north and north-western rural Bangladesh It also includes people who are at risk of contracting leprosy or lymphatic filariasis and who will benefit from early detection services, as well as people who are diagnosed with leprosy and lymphatic filariasis This last group will benefit from increased access to quality health services. This will result in reduced transmission, morbidity and disability How can you help? You can help us train more women champions and perform more self-care demonstrations by getting involved in one of our fundraising campaigns. Check out our fundraising page to see how you can get fit and fundraise.