The Order of Malta marks the 60th World Day for the Fight against Leprosy
Rome 27 January 2013
leprosy patient in Cambodia
The Order of Malta has cared for sufferers from leprosy (Hansen’s disease) for almost a thousand years and still does so today. It runs care centres, early detection programmes and educational programmes in Africa and Asia.
The Order’s care for leprosy victims in Africa
Cameroon – patients and their families are cared for at the Roham Chabot Centre in Mokolo, the main city in the far north. The programme forms part of an extensive global leprosy programme run by Ordre de Malte France, MALTALEP. The Order also runs programmes for the detection and treatment of tuberculosis through 15 clinics and dispensaries.
Gabon – patients with leprosy are cared for in a hospital supported by Ordre de Malte France, in Eberigné.
Guinea Conakry – the Order continues its implementation of a national fight against TB and leprosy under an agreement with the state government. Patients are diagnosed and treated in public health centres. The Order has been operating in Guinea since 1986, when the first agreement was signed with the country for a national leprosy programme. Its Pita surgery operates as a logistics base for its national leprosy programmes.
Ivory Coast – clinics supported by the Order are involved in the treatment of patients with the disease, most of whom are children under the age of 15. Ordre de Malte France supports 19 clinics and dispensaries in the country, which include those treating leprosy patients.
Morocco – the Order continues its cooperation with the country’s healthcare programmes for leprosy.
Senegal – the care and treatment of leprosy sufferers at the Central Hospital of the Order of Malta (CHOM), in Dakar, is supported and funded by Ordre de Malte France. The speciality care has been established for many years.
Extended support in south east Asia
Cambodia – the Order of Malta CIOMAL Foundation focuses on giving support for leprosy detection and treatment, helps eradicate the stigma of leprosy and trains medical students and health personnel (533 in 2011) in specialist treatments and procedures, as well as running radio based education campaigns country wide and campaigns in regional communities. It supports the Cambodian National Leprosy Control Programme, and its teaching and rehabilitation centre, Kien Khlang in Phnom Penh, covers all aspects of the disease – detection, prevention, early treatment, and rehabilitation, both medical and socio-economic. In 2010, the rehabilitation centre received 249 leprosy inpatients and gave medical consultations to 1,250 outpatients. Programmes for social reintegration and microeconomics encourage former patients to become self-sufficient.
Modern treatment for the disease
The most effective treatment for leprosy is with multi-drug therapy (MDT), but patients need to be detected early for a successful outcome and local populations need to learn about the disease, how it can be prevented, and how its sufferers can be reintegrated into their communities. The fight against the disease is not over: the World Health Organisation (WHO) records almost 200,000 new cases detected in 2011*.
*WHO: Leprosy – new case detection 2011.