Leprosy is curable and, if treated early, the effects of leprosy are preventable. However, many people affected by leprosy are unable to access quality healthcare which can result in lifelong disabilities (for details on the medical impact of leprosy see section About Leprosy). Stigma discourages people from seeking diagnosis. Leprosy patients are entitled to free care in government hospitals but are often forced to pay for treatment and medication. In addition they have to bear the cost of travel to the hospital and often lose their source of income. Government hospitals provide Multi Drug Therapy (which stops the spread of leprosy) but not other necessary services such as reconstructive surgery or physiotherapy for disabled patients or counseling to deal with the trauma of the stigma of leprosy. Hospitals also do not always make patients aware of government schemes and services intended to help them access their full rights and entitlements.
Our 14 hospitals provide high quality, specialized care for people affected by leprosy in urban and rural areas across India. Our long serving medical staff have decades of experience in treating leprosy and leprosy related issues. We provide a wide range of services for people affected by leprosy including provision of multi drug therapy, management of reactions, care of insensitive limbs/feet/hands, prosthetic body parts, footwear (to protect their feet from injury or ulcers), orthopaedic appliances (e.g. crutches), reconstruction and correction of deformities through surgery, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, counseling, training in prevention of further disability and eye care, treatment of eye problems and general health education. Many of our hospitals are in isolated, rural areas so we can reach the most marginalized communities. Many of our hospitals also provide medical services to other disadvantaged groups in the local community, for a small fee. This provides an opportunity for members of the local community to interact with people affected by leprosy and helps in the reduction of stigma. People affected by leprosy are also referred to our other services, such as our Vocational Training and Education Centres, which offer a holistic approach to meet their needs.
Our medical staff travel to remote and marginalised communities to reach people affected by leprosy who cannot physically access our hospitals. We conduct village level clinics to raise awareness about leprosy and offer treatment for people affected by leprosy and address other health issues including malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS. We also teach communities about good health practices (e.g. breastfeeding, hand washing) particularly for mothers and children.
Our medical staff work in collaboration with the national and state governments to build the quality of health systems and the knowledge and skills of staff in health programmes to ensure that high quality care is available for people affected by leprosy, across India. Sensitisation builds the knowledge of medical staff on issues faced by people affected by leprosy. They also receive medical training on diagnosis and treatment of leprosy. We work with the government health department to improve referral systems between doctors and hospitals, to ensure leprosy patients are quickly and efficiently referred for treatment. We help build the capacity of hospitals to provide a range of effective, high quality care to meet all the medical needs of people affected by leprosy. We also work with the government to monitor and evaluate the impact of programmes to eradicate leprosy.
Our 5 Snehalayas (care homes) provide full time care for elderly people affected by leprosy who have been disowned by their families and excluded from their communities. Staff in the Snehalayas provide a holistic mix of physical, psychological and spiritual care for the elderly to enable them to complete their lives with dignity and love.