TLM works with leprosy-affected communities in around 30 countries. This work includes medical detection and treatment, education, development, rehabilitation, rights awareness, housing, advocacy and social justice.
Leprosy is most prevalent in poor communities. It is easily curable with multi-drug therapy, a combination of antibiotics taken for six to 12 months. Sadly, because of continuing stigma, many people still hesitate to seek help when symptoms first occur. A large part of TLM’s work involves community health care and education to combat this. Leprosy is a human rights issue, so our work also goes beyond medical support.
Lisa Lewis writes: “As part of my role as South-East Area Co-ordinator for TLM I visited medical and community projects in Calcutta and West Bengal. During my trip I met a man called Abdul. Abdul lives in the Mercy Home, which is part of TLM’s Purulia Hospital. Abdul was abandoned by his family when he was diagnosed with Leprosy in the 1970s. Although he is fully cured of the disease, he has not seen his family since they took him to the hospital; he doesn’t know where they are. He has been at the hospital ever since. However, when I talked to Abdul he was not sad or full of self-pity. He understands his family’s reaction. Back in the ‘70s, Leprosy was surrounded by fear and stigma, but at Purulia Hospital he found acceptance and care. The staff and other patients became his new family.
Although that fear and stigma is still very much there, I also met many people who said that their family was supporting them, and that they had not been abandoned. TLM works not only with people affected by Leprosy but also works to try and change society’s view of Leprosy.”