Fighting Leprosy in Cambodia
All year round, Campagne Internationale de l’Ordre de Malte contre la Lèpre’s (CIOMAL) teams travel the provinces of Cambodia to fight leprosy and help those affected and their families live decent lives. Robust sturdy vehicles are indispensable to their mission.
For over 25 years, CIOMAL’s teams have crisscrossed Cambodia to be as close as possible to those affected by leprosy and their families, who often live in remote areas hard to reach. They have been rejected by their communities or chosen to leave out of shame and settled in inhospitable places outside of villages, living in extreme poverty.
To reach some of these families, CIOMAL vehicles have to drive on tracks running through forests or rice fields for hours, usually on rough dirt roads. Cambodian roads are often ridden with potholes, meaning that they are extremely hard to drive on and vehicles have to be remarkably resilient. In the rainy season, cars can get stuck in the mud whereas in the dry season, they have to contend with crater-sized holes on the roads.
Then, CIOMAL’s social workers have to walk under the scorching sun in the dry season or through muddy fields in the rainy season. Reaching these families is crucial to establish a correct assessment of their living standard and therefore determine the right support to provide them with. Sometimes, it is also the only way for CIOMAL’s social workers to get in touch with some people with leprosy that have been ostracized by society.
CIOMAL’s teams also carry out early detection campaigns throughout the country. These campaigns, which have contributed to the elimination of leprosy in Cambodia, involve visiting every person that was formerly affected by leprosy and inspecting those close to them – whether relatives or neighbors – in a radius of 200m around their home. Any new case that is discovered during these inspections receives treatment (rifampicin) right away, which immediately puts a stop to contagion risks. Such crucial work could not be done without quality utility vehicles.
Who are CIOMAL?
CIOMAL (Campagne Internationale de l’Ordre de Malte contre la Lèpre) is a Swiss private law non-profit foundation, which aims to fight leprosy and all forms of exclusion associated with the disease or its disabilities throughout the world.
Initially known as the International Committee of the Order of Malta Against Leprosy – created in Geneva in 1958 following the International Conference for the Defense and Social Rehabilitation of Lepers organized by the Grand Master of the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of Malta – CIOMAL became the CIOMAL Foundation (Campagne Internationale de l’Ordre de Malte contre la Lèpre) on 4 April 1999.
In 1966, CIOMAL was one of the founding members of the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), which brings together 15 organizations involved in the fight against leprosy in 67 countries in order to coordinate their approaches and methods and to determine the coordination responsibilities for each country.
Learn more about the work of CIOMAL and how you can help by visiting their website: www.ciomal.org