Local health workers banding together to defeat leprosy

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The current laboratory at Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital

IN Ireland, leprosy is a word that is only used in readings from the Bible but in other parts of the world, it’s a fearful and very real threat to life and limb.

In Limerick, the HSE staff at the Department of Public Health Mid West have launched a fundraising campaign to help develop laboratory facilities in Nepal.

They have partnered with Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital in eastern Nepal, which is one of the busiest facilities of its kind in the world.

The department has had close ties with the hospital, its clinical team, and the community for seven years.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease that mainly affects the peripheral nerves, and the upper respiratory tract. It can cause long-term, life-changing disabilities, including blindness and limb damage.

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However, with early diagnosis and treatment, it is curable.

The area where Lalgadh Hospital is situated, has one of the highest rates of Leprosy in Nepal and served 62,000 people last year.

Staff nurse Eimear Dwan, who has been working on the frontline of the Covid pandemic with Public Health Mid-West since 2020, will take part in this weekend’s Great Limerick Run marathon in aid of this charitable cause.

Said Eimear, “It is an honour to represent the department’s efforts to raise much-needed funds for Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital and the thousands of patients it treats in Nepal.

“The marathon is one of the toughest challenges in sport, but I have dedicated months of preparation for the task ahead on the May Bank Holiday weekend. After reaching the finish line, I am hopeful we can raise enough to build modern facilities for people in Nepal.”

Dr Krishna Lama, Deputy Director at LLHSC, said the hospital is  “solely a non-profit organiation to serve leprosy affected, poor, marginalised and excluded people. We are always conscious about better care of patients, so we would like to upgrade our laboratory to improve the health of the local population.”

The ultimate aim of Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital to become completely self-sustainable. A significant proportion of their care is self-funded through general care, with leprosy care free-of-charge.

Developing their laboratory services will help them towards sustainability, as well as improving the range of health care and diagnostics they can supply to the area they serve.

Public Health Mid-West has formed a committee to oversee the campaign and they are planning a number of fundraising initiatives, including participating in this year’s Great Limerick Run.

All donations are processed through the Nepal Leprosy Trust Ireland charity. Members of the public can donate here