Our work, at LEPRA Society, is driven by our focus on leprosy, with the sole purpose of enabling children, women and men affected by leprosy and other neglected diseases to transform their lives and overcome poverty and prejudice.
Leprosy is a neglected and communicable disease which is totally curable. However, if undetected or ignored, affected persons face a high risk of disabilities, medical complications and ulcers. In addition, those affected face stigma, social exclusion, mental health issues and high economic costs–both direct (related to treatment and rehabilitation) and indirect (loss of income).
In 1989, one of the first operations undertaken by LEPRA was extending support to the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) through management of the multidrug therapy (MDT) administration, in a total of five districts from Andhra Pradesh (AP), Karnataka and Odisha states. Gradually, it expanded operations to leprosy control with eleven projects, covering thirteen high endemic districts in the states of AP and Odisha.
In 2005, leprosy was considered eliminated in India (defined as a prevalence of less than 1 per 10,000) and as a result, the disease was dropped from health agendas and resources drastically dwindled. Expertise in leprosy amongst health professionals progressively declined and surveillance/control activities weakened. More than a decade later, several indicators suggest that leprosy remains an important public health issue and that transmission is high. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), current government programmes miss around 50 percent of new leprosy cases. The mid-term evaluation report of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) conducted by the Central Leprosy Division and the WHO revealed that the government efforts did not match the level and intensity of the disease burden.
LEPRA’s leprosy programmes cover 156 districts located in Telangana, AP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Assam and Delhi states. The crosscutting themes of our programmes include system strengthening, combined approaches, empowerment, equity, advocacy, gender and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
The Organisation has gained more than 25 years of experience in implementing its core leprosy programmes related to case detection, prevention of disabilities, disability care, rehabilitation, inclusion, awareness, advocacy and community mobilisation. It is providing state level technical support to NLEP in Telangana, MP and Odisha and district level support in Bihar. In order to bridge the gaps in leprosy programme after integration, LEPRA is implementing 25 referral centres (RCs) to provide specialised leprosy services at the district level. It signed a MoU with national and state level forums of leprosy affected persons to advocate against stigma and discrimination.
Since its inception in 1989, LEPRA Society achieved the following:
- 5, 47,708 people availed treatment for leprosy
- 12,060 with leprosy corrected their disabilities through reconstructive surgeries
- 2,26,484 pairs of specialised footwear were supplied to affected people with disabilities/deformities, for prevention of foot ulcers
- 75,000 persons with disabilities due to leprosy availed disability care services
- 6000 persons were empowered to access livelihood and government entitlements
Our work is relevant to the people affected by leprosy and contributes to the NLEP and WHO Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-20 and International Federation of Anti-leprosy Associations (ILEP) strategy- 2015–2018.