The Community Health and Inclusion (CHAI) Project aims to assist the most marginalised and vulnerable people in society.
The project will support people affected by leprosy working and living in the tea garden estates of eastern Bangladesh who are an especially overlooked group, and who are geographically excluded from leprosy services under the National Leprosy Elimination Programme.
Bangladesh is the world’s ninth-largest tea producer. There are about 100,000 registered workers and 30,000 seasonal workers in 167 tea garden estates. The total number of tea workers and their families is estimated to be around 500,000.
Disease mapping studies show leprosy persists in tea garden areas, but these have been neglected by leprosy management until now. This has led to morbidity and disability issues for people with leprosy and a drop in the early detection of new cases. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have further exacerbated the socioeconomic and health inequalities of tea garden workers.
Tea garden workers and estate health staff identified needs and gaps in their health care provision in discussions with Lepra staff. Proper leprosy management will allow workers to lead a healthy life and maintain employment. The project plans to complement the ongoing Health System Strengthening work (PROYASH project) in eastern Bangladesh by addressing the needs of these ‘islands’ of people who remain marginalised and culturally excluded from the local community. This project will allow the extension of leprosy detection and treatment services to these neglected groups.
We will be working in Moulvibazar District of Sylhet Division in eastern Bangladesh, aiming to reach 240 people affected by leprosy and their families directly. Twenty-four self-help groups will be established for them, providing motivation for self-care as well as fostering good health awareness and communications together as a group.
Twelve community champions will be appointed to become agents of change in the communities affected, empowering individuals and groups alike. Community Champions will conduct 3,240 health education sessions with people affected by leprosy, their family members, and their neighbours. The sessions aim to create awareness of the signs and symptoms of leprosy and promote hygiene and a healthy lifestyle through regular home visits and counselling. We aim to reach 12,960 beneficiaries.
We will be providing basic health services, including the distribution of specialized, protective footwear and training in simple self-care techniques to all group members
Five advocacy meetings will be held with tea garden authorities and government officials to ensure entitlements and health care services are being provided.
We will support with seed money for income-generating activities for the 10 most vulnerable group members, enabling them to establish themselves in business or work in order to have an income and improve their lives.
Your support can help us continue to grow our self-help groups, to reach and support more people living with the effects of leprosy. A gift of £28 can fund a self-help group for three months, enabling people to come together, learn new skills to help them become independent and fight for their rights. Donate today!