Leprosy: no longer a forgotten disease in Mozambique
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Mozambique is the fourth most disease-afflicted country in the world. Whilst the focus of health care is towards the most common diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, other sicknesses need support. After several years of field work, the Order of Malta in Mozambique has identified the need to focus on neglected diseases such as leprosy and heart disease, and in so doing, is raising their profile and providing care.
The Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta to Mozambique, jointly with Ordre de Malte France, has agreed to support the National Plan Against Leprosy of the Ministry of Health of Mozambique for a period of four years, from 2013.
A fact-finding mission to assess leprosy in Nampula province – one of the three most affected by the disease – took place in October 2012. Led by Ordre de Malte France International Medical coordinator to Mozambique, Dr. Patrick Guyon, findings have resulted in increased support for leprosy sufferers in the country. The Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta to Mozambique is pleased to report that Ordre de Malte France will provide specialist drugs (prednisolone) for the next four years; sponsorship of 5000 vests for volunteers working in the field for the National Plan Against Leprosy; and support for purchasing special sandals for leprosy sufferers.
Self care groups: a vital component in care, tolerance, economic viability Following the mission, the Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta to Mozambique launched a Christmas campaign for Self Care groups (GACs). The groups are made up of former lepers, those undergoing treatment and, increasingly, sufferers from other neglected diseases. They look after themselves, with daily care for foot ulcers and other health problems. The groups also play an important role in the National Plan Against Leprosy in an economic and social context: they receive micro credit for the raising of goats, culture of manioc and selling soap and sugar given by the State. Leprosy is no longer stigmatised in Mozambique, thanks to groups like these. And so people affected by leprosy can live in the villages without discrimination.
The Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta has also organised, jointly with the Portuguese Association of the Order of Malta, a campaign that aims to donate pairs of goats to each of the 51 Self Care groups in Nampula province and 1000 wash basins to the groups with lepers in vulnerable conditions and with serious deformities.