Today when leprosy is curable, the age old stigma attached to it has not been cured. People still believe that leprosy is a divine punishment for past sins and immoral behaviour. Though leprosy is the oldest disease in the world, it is still one of the most misunderstood. Stigma generated due to lack of knowledge results in discrimination and ostracization of people who suffer from it. Awareness and understanding of leprosy is often limited among communities, medical practitioners, government workers and local NGOs. Due to lack of understanding among medical practitioners leprosy is often misdiagnosed or wrongly treated. People affected by leprosy are often unaware that leprosy is treatable or how to access treatment. There are still many archaic national and State level laws that discriminate on the basis of a person having leprosy.
Awareness and understanding are the first steps toward tackling the problems related to leprosy. Early detection of leprosy is the key to prevent long term complications. Therefore, there is a need to educate and inform people about leprosy for them to seek medical help at the earliest and also reduce stigma and discrimination. It is also essential for people affected by leprosy to know their rights and claim their rightful place in the society.
Increasing Awareness, Understanding and Action
We at TLMTI acknowledge that any progress to change attitudes, practices, ideas, policies, and power and resource distribution needs a coordinated effort. TLMTI’s Advocacy & Communication Domain , works as a national level Resource Centre for Advocacy to address the issue of inclusive development by influencing policies and practices involving those affected by leprosy and other disabilities. It uses innovative communication methods to influence social knowledge and attitudes on leprosy and other disabilities.
TLMTI works toward repealing discriminatory laws by forming networks of people affected by leprosy to advocate at the national, state and district level. At the community level TLMTI works to create mass awareness on government social welfare schemes, and help people affected by leprosy access such schemes, through the advocacy groups. TLMTI also trains grassroots organizations on leprosy, stigma reduction strategies, discriminatory legislations, human rights and advocacy.
We work with individuals and communities disadvantaged by leprosy, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, by addressing their physical, mental, social and spiritual needs to uphold human dignity and eradicate leprosy.