Image by NLR
By Andrew Newmarch, International Programs Manager
Thank you for your prayers and support for people affected by leprosy. Thank you for those already supporting our latest project Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Community (PEPCOM) in Indonesia.
Implemented by No Leprosy Remains (NLR) Indonesia, this project is a partnership between NLR Indonesia, Netherlands Leprosy Relief (NLR) and the Indramayu District Health Office, supported by The Leprosy Missions New Zealand, the Netherlands and Australia.
This project marks our first time directly supporting a promising tool in the mission to eradicate leprosy: Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). PEP involves administering a dose of an antibiotic called Rifampicin, to the contacts of people who are newly diagnosed with leprosy. Studies show that this may reduce the likelihood of contacts developing leprosy by up to 60%, making this the first viable prevention method for leprosy. The district of Indramayu is one of the most endemic areas in West Java for leprosy, making it an important site for the rollout of PEP.
How this helps us work towards our Zero Leprosy Transmission Goal: The project has trained local leprosy health workers on leprosy control and the PEP approach.
Extensive data on the status of leprosy in Indramayu is being gathered, so the project can identify the contacts who are at risk. In the next two years, PEP will be rolled out.
Research on PEP points to an unintended, but very positive by-product of this approach as being the ‘revitalisation’ of leprosy control programs. Health workers have spent years trying to contain leprosy, often to find that resources are reduced due to funding cuts. Other programme limiting issues are far less tangible. One of those is superstition about leprosy and its causes. A second is the stigma that many people face, partly based on the superstition but also due to higher levels of stigma towards women. And so cases of leprosy continue to emerge. Having a new tool like PEP encourages people that leprosy can be defeated and may inspire people to change their attitudes, and governments to allocate more funding and set new goals to that end.
Please pray for the successful roll out of PEP in Indramayu, Indonesia. Pray for the covering and protection of Indonesians that they will not contract leprosy or transmit it to others. Particularly pray for those in endemic areas. Your generous heart and prayers make all of this possible. Thank you and God bless you!
If you would like to financially support people affected by leprosy in Indonesia, please contact 1800 537 767 to make a one-time gift or go to: www.leprosymission.org.au/indonesia