Nigeria is located in western African on the Gulf of Guinea and is one of the most populated countries in the world. With more than 250 ethnic groups, all with varying languages and customs, Nigeria has a rich ethnic diversity.
Health and health care, and general living conditions are very poor in Nigeria with a life expectancy of only 47 years for both male & female. Many curable diseases are still rampant as only half the population has access to clean water and proper sanitation.
Leprosy Control Program
Leprosy colonies were established in Nigeria in the late 1920s when Christian missionaries provided care. By the 1940s and 50s, Nigeria was ahead of many countries in its leprosy control activities and was involved in pioneering the use of Dapsone as a new drug for leprosy care.
Today, TLM works alongside the Nigerian Ministry of Health and other NGOs providing high quality leprosy control and holistic care for people affected by leprosy.
The Leprosy Control Program is at work in Nigeria with 150 general health workers being trained in leprosy diagnosis and treatment. Advocacy with the government to provide funding for the LCP is having some effect. 450 new cases of leprosy were detected in 2007, and over 200 up to June 2008.
Prevention of Disability (POD) and Rehabilitation
An Orthopedic project based at the Changanga hospital has a workshop that makes protective footwear and other orthopedic appliances which improve the quality of life for people affected by leprosy. 16,000 leprosy patients throughout Nigeria benefited from protective sandals last year. There are approximately 17,000 leprosy patients with permanent disabilities due to leprosy within the 8 TLM-assisted Nigerian states.
New self-groups have been formed to help those with disability and to prevent further disability. Thirty groups have also received micro-credit loans for members to start their own businesses.
Through SER programs, people affected by leprosy are empowered and enabled to become economically independent. Vocational training, micro-credit schemes, scholarships and community development plans such as water pumps, literacy classes and income generating projects all encourage economic independence and confidence.
Education in Nigeria is free but as attendance isn’t compulsory only 29% of secondary students attend. The school system there has been described as ‘dysfunctional’, with decaying institutions and ill-prepared graduates.
TLM gave assistance to 132 children to help them with books, uniforms etc, which in turn changes the lives of whole families.