INF began leprosy work in 1952 when its first medical services were started in the ‘Shining Hospital’ in Pokhara. In 2009, prevalence of leprosy in Nepal dropped below one in 10,000.
However, new cases continue to occur and many patients need care for the rest of their lives. For some the stigma of leprosy means they are forced to leave their families.
INF provides diagnosis, treatment and essential care for leprosy patients with severe reactions and disabilities. Leprosy affected people are also provided with mobility aids such as shoes, crutches, artificial limbs and wheelchairs.
Dal Bahadur Oli is 50 years old and lives in Uttar Amrai village, Dang district in mid-west Nepal. It takes six hours by bus, from his home, to reach INF Surkhet where he received treatment for leprosy.
A year after completing treatment he suffered a complication of leprosy, where nodules appeared on his lower limbs and face, along with a tingling sensation in both feet. Steroid treatment was started immediately.
Dal Bahadur made a rapid recovery and after one month of hospitalisation he was discharged to the self-care unit in INF Surkhet where he was given two weeks training in preventing further injury to his hands and legs. Self-care training empowers leprosy patients to manage their disabilities and avoid developing new impairments.
Dal Bahadur also suffers from epilepsy and during self-care training he fell and injured his spine. He was unable to move so complete bed rest and epilepsy treatment were given. He spent six months in care, but eventually he was able to walk again and in June 2011 he was able to return to his home.
INF’s main focus in treating leprosy is care-after-cure, which seeks to reduce the risk of reoccurrence or the development of permanent disability. At an individual level, through their love and care INF staff provide the leprosy patietns they treat both physical and spiritual healing.
World Leprosy Day falls on 30 January each year, and was observed on 27 January this year, please join us in praying for leprosy sufferers world-wide and for the leprosy work of INF in Nepal.