I recently attended a Stamp Fair held at the Burwood Heights Uniting Church in Melbourne. It was a sunny day. The carpark was full. Inside was quite the crowd. Some were in deep conversation with old friends. Others were leaning over albums, peering through thick magnifying glasses at selected findings, amassing piles of stamps that they wanted to buy. A canteen to the side was offering cakes, biscuits, coffee and tea. Community art decorated the walls.
Great advances in public health have been made because of an improvement to the access, quality and use of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. These three things can be recalled easily with the handy acronym WaSH (Water, Sanitation [and] Hygiene). In 2010 the Millennium Development Goals—the framework for global development—reached its target of supplying 90% of the world with safe drinking water. But there’s still a long way to go for sanitation and hygiene—the target for providing access to sanitation facilities was missed by 700 million people.
With stunning Himalayan views, high passes, traditional teahouses, tiny hamlets, prayer flags and hot springs, the Annapurna region is among the best trekking destinations in the world. And as part of the Trek to Defeat Leprosy, you will experience it all.
This beaming face belongs to Gouwo. She used to be a Nurse Aid and worked at Port Moresby General Hospital when she was younger. She actually met her husband there and they married and had children. Along with her relatives they lived together in a squatter settlement. Gouwo was happy. She used to enjoy her colleagues’ company—they would share food, chat and laugh together.
Neglected tropical diseases are a collection of eighteen devastating diseases. Leprosy is just one of them. Many of the diseases have confusing, unpronounceable names. This hasn’t exactly helped them get noticed by generous people willing to help out. So thank you for noticing this need. They are all caused by tiny creatures that damage the human body: bacteria, protozoans (single-celled animal-like creatures), worms and viruses. Leprosy is caused by the bacteria M.leprae and M.lepromatosis. The other diseases caused by bacterias are Buruli ulcer, Leprosy, Mycetoma, Trachoma and Yaws. Protozoans are the cause of Chagas disease, Leishmaniases and Sleeping sickness (Human African trypanosomiasis). Worms cause Echinococcosis, Foodborne trematodiases, Lymphatic filariasis, Schistosomiasis, Taeniasis and neurocysticercosis, Guinea worm disease (Dracunculiasis), River blindness (Onchocerciasis) and Soil-transmitted helminthiases. Viruses cause Dengue and Chikungunya, and Rabies. Australians don’t have to worry about these neglected tropical diseases too much. We generally have access to a robust health system and good living conditions–all factors that can keep outbreaks at bay. They still pop up here on occasion though. But they don’t need to be an urgent domestic priority for Australia.
Leprosy can affect people physically, but it can also destroy their psychological and social health. This damage is a result of stigma—the disgrace that people experience as a result of having leprosy.