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Helping Leprosy patients reclaim their lives

2013-06-23

AUGUSTA GALBUSERA


Missionary della Consolata

"Yes, leprosy still exists. In Liberia for example, it’s spreading within the younger generation, so in youths that are about 14 years old. So this mean that the disease not only exists, but it’s also spreading.”
 
But the question is, what causes the disease in the first place? Experts believe it’s a specific type of bacteria known as mycobacterium leprae. The air-born bacteria, or germs are believed to enter through the nose before breaking through the skin.

It’s estimated that about two to 300,000 people are diagnosed every year. The World Health Organization says that about 3 million people are disabled because of it. Among the countries with the highest rates are Brazil, India, Liberia and Indonesia. Perhaps the biggest challenge is social segregation.

AUGUSTA GALBUSERA

Missionary della Consolata

"Leprosy is an illness that alienates people from society. In Liberia, they are literally thrown out of their village because of it. So, we train these people so they can develop skills and find a job. Once they are independent, it’s easier for them to be welcomed back to their families.”

Sister Augusta and her group of missionaries also help out by providing medication. Over the years myths have followed this disease. For example body parts don’t fall off and it’s not as contagious as once thought. In fact about 95 percent of the population is naturally immune.

AUGUSTA GALBUSERA

Missionary della Consolata

"If a person has a good immune system, it’s not that easy to get infected. Only about five percent of people who are exposed to it, will get infected, so the number is actually pretty low.”

Thousands of years ago, the disease was well known in China, India and Egypt. Although the disease still exists, there has been progress.  There’s no vaccine for this illness, but with antibiotics,  more than 14 million people have been cured in the last 20 years.


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