We have adopted two leprosy villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Grace Children's Orphanage is providing medical care, basic needs and awareness programs to those in these villages. This is meeting the practical and spiritual needs in order to bring transformation in the lives of the lepers and their children. We are currently distributing monthly provisions for 20 different families!
ABOUT LEPROSY IN INDIA:
Leprosy currently affects approximately a quarter of a million people throughout the world, with the majority of these cases being reported from India. India is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). India is currently running one of the largest leprosy eradication program in the world, the National Leprosy Eradication Program (NLEP). Despite this, 120,000 to 130,000 new cases of leprosy are reported every year in India. This is 58.8% of the global total of new cases.
Leprosy is one of the least infectious diseases as nearly everyone has some measure of natural resistance against it. Nevertheless, it continues to spread, partially due to its extremely long incubation period, which may last as long as 30 years, as well as widespread ignorance and misinformation about the symptoms and effects of the disease. Stigma against the disease due to its disfigurement causes its victims to be isolated and shunned. They may also isolate themselves out of fear of discrimination. Patients may be impacted in every area of their life, including interpersonal relationships, economic security, and mental health and wellbeing. Leprosy is also the leading cause of permanent disability in the world and is primarily a disease of the poor.
The disease is now readily treatable with multi-drug therapy, which combines three drugs to kill the pathogen and cure the victim. Disability and disfigurement can be avoided if the disease is treated early, while conversely delay in treatment is linked to greater disability. Unfortunately, individuals with leprosy are still shunned, isolated, and stigmatised, leading to the fear of leprosy being worse than the disease itself. Additionally, the initial symptoms are not obvious and may easily be mistaken for other conditions, such as insect bites or allergic reactions. Patients may consider the disease too minor to warrant a visit to a doctor and fear losing their wages.
People suffering from severe leprosy-related disabilities face extensive discrimination. Often, the only way they can make money is by begging. Under these conditions, they may mutilate themselves to garner more sympathy and therefore more money. Sufferers may also hide their symptoms or diagnosis from their family or colleagues, have difficulty maintaining a job, or avoid physical contact with their family.
Leprosy colonies exist throughout India. These are typically made up of patients that have moved to the colony from a significant distance away, and their children and grandchildren. These colonies have a very strong community bond, formed in reaction to outside discrimination and stigma.