What does “leaving no one behind” mean to ILEP?
Every two minutes someone is diagnosed with leprosy. Over 6% of people are diagnosed too late to prevent visible disabilities such as damage to hands and feet and severe eyesight impairment. Over 9% of new cases are children like Manjeet.
Manjeet, nine, is from Madhya Pradesh, India. He came to the Leprosy Mission hospital with multiple disabilities, clawed hands and foot drop. It is almost unheard of for a child so young to have such deformities from leprosy.
If leprosy is a curable disease which can be easily treated free of charge to all patients, why do millions of people worldwide remain undiagnosed and untreated? The reasons are complex and many, but some delay diagnosis due to fear of the deep-rooted stigma and discrimination against people affected by leprosy.
For ILEP, leaving no one behind that is affected by leprosy, means tackling the social barriers to lowering transmission by ending legislation against people affected by leprosy so that no countries allow discrimination on the basis of leprosy. Only then will we see an end to disabilities among children with leprosy.
Manjeet has had two reconstructive surgeries and is currently undergoing physiotherapy for one hand. His right foot has been operated upon; once it is stable he will undergo surgery for his left foot. In time, he won’t be left behind. The victory for people affected by leprosy is found in SDG Goal 3.3: by 2030 an end to NTDs.