Health First- India is the fundraising unit of Swiss Emmaus Leprosy Relief Work- Lepra.ch (ALES) in India.Read More
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Health First- India is the fundraising unit of Swiss Emmaus Leprosy Relief Work- Lepra.ch (ALES) in India. This unit is dedicated to raise funds exclusively for healthcare work and research in this country. As a name, HealthFirst India communicates the importance of the issue and the need for everyone to tackle it on priority. The logo shows a tree arched over the letters Health First, indicating the umbrella of health care services that we provide. However, the leaves have a life of their own, and the predominant message is of health and life. There are a few leaves in red, indicating the neglected (and therefore very special nature) of some of the diseases that we work with.
About Swiss Emmaus
Our projects, supported by our partner organisations, are located across ten states in India. We support nine hospitals apart from our partners. In addition Swiss Emmaus also supports research projects to identify new developments and problems in leprosy. Swiss Emmaus is a relief organisation, involved in over 100 leprosy projects, in 20 countries. They support projects in countries where leprosy cases are frequent or the public health care system is very poor. In Asia the focal points include India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Nepal. In Africa the focal points are Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Gabon.
We have 30 staff at the central office in Chennai and another 23 staff in our four regional offices. These include medical/ technical advisors and administrative staff.
For the past fifty years, Swiss Emmaus, in India, have been working in India for the leprosy and tuberculosis-TB affected.
This partnership has grown and we continue to fund more than 100 projects in India.
Now, there is a growing need to enhance this support and provide better healthcare and rehabilitation to people affected by leprosy, TB and other health-related diseases, thus making 'health for all' a reality.
Medical consultation at an early stage
Counseling and care of handicapped people
Advocacy and dissemination of information to aid prevention and de-stigmatisation.
Further, we work with the Government of India to help roll out the National Leprosy Elimination Program (NLEP) and the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP), as we realise the magnitude of the problem and importance of working together to address these health issues.
What we do ?For the past fifty years, we have been working in India for the leprosy and TB affected. One of the main objectives is to ensure treatment is affordable and accessible to communities affected by leprosy,TB , HIV/ AIDS and other diseases. We will also continue supporting research in this field. We are expanding our focus to include other neglected diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, dengue fever and lymphatic filariasis.
Care is the buzz word...His name is Khaja; at 19 years his world had come to a stop, or so he thought till he met Dr Jacob at Emmaus Hospital at Palmaner.
A goldsmith by profession, Khaja took great pride in jewellery making and was enjoying this when he realised his fingers were curling in and not really obeying him. This alarmed him for he was already diagnosed with leprosy in his foot and an abscess was bothering him for some time now. He had visited six doctors and each came up with a different diagnosis! What worried him even more was the fact that he had spent Rs 60,000 to get his foot treated without much relief.
This was till he got to meet the team from Emmaus Hospital. The team had come to his village in Kurnool and his brother on hearing about the team rushed home and took him to the camp. "It was providence," he says "for apart from the encouragement and treatment that I have received here, what I value most is the care and concern they have for me. I was worried about the cost of this surgery because after having spent so much I really don't have the money now. But this place is so affordable that I feel relieved that my family will not have to sell their property to get me treated!"
What we do ?We work primarily in the field of leprosy, tuberculosis and implement the integrated general health care programme that covers eye care, dental and oral hygiene, HIV/AIDS and skin treatment. While the government provides treatment for leprosy, the person affected requires life-long care and support. This need is met by us. Our work covers reconstructive surgery, ulcer care, providing special footwear, rehabilitation and referral services to the leprosy affected, both adults and children.
Family saves Nisha from clutches of deathNisha's husband Iqbal a rickshaw puller noticed that Nisha had been having a continuous cold and cough. He also found that she had fever very frequently and some times her sputum was stained with blood. He took her to a private dispensary and on examination they learned she had TB and had to start medication immediately.
"Her neighbours and relatives on learning about her condition avoided her, but her husband was very brave and was determined to see her through her treatment.In the meantime her neighbours and relatives started harassing their two little children. They were compelled to leave the city. They reached Ajmer with support from a friend and Iqbal learnt to repair electrical items so that he could stay back at home and take care of his wife and kids. Soon he became an expert and started to earn about Rs 2000 per month.
However, the dislocation and the early struggle to find some financial stability caused a break in the treatment and Nisha had to be admitted to a hospital. She was later referred to the Sarthak Manav dispensary and given treatment under the DOTs programme for a period of 6 months. After the treatment, a test confirmed that she was completely cure. Today she is healthy and happy and back at home with her husband and children.
- Meharunisha braves all odds
- A New Lease of Life...
- Leprosy not curable, a myth, says feisty Padma
- Courageous Nathu Singh fights the stigma of leprosy
Meharunisha braves all odds
Meharunisha was born in a poor family in Melacauvery near Kumbakonam. Her elder sister brought her up. At the age of eight she was affected by leprosy and since her sister' husband was working in Sacred Heart Leprosy Centre, treatment was prompt.
Soon after her treatment, her sister arranged her marriage with Noor Mohamed. Noor was also treated for leprosy and he had a small shop inside SHLC premises. However, after their marriage both Noor and Meharunisha opted to move out of the SHLC campus to start a petty shop near by. Their shop was thriving because the local people were supportive and had dedicated clients.
The couple had two children. Just as the family was beginning to do well, tragedy struck. Noor died. Meharunisha was devastated but she did not lose courage.
"Alone she brought up her two children and tended to her shopToday, with SHLC's support Meharunisha has managed to send her daughter to study nursing and her son is studying ITI at the TLM Centre at Vadathorasalur.
A New Lease of Life...
Eighteen-year old Rajeshwari hides all her fears behind her winning smile. Without much fuss she shares "I was brought here because Basha (Emmaus Hospital field staff) had visited our village and he told my parents that I need to get admitted for surgery to correct my disability."
Rajeshwar, one among six siblings, comes from an economically backward community. Her parents are daily wage earners. She learnt to live without too much attention or love from her parents. The lack of attention probably explains why it took her eight long years to avail medical care. The village health worker discovered her. She had skin patches and had developed deformity.
When Basha met her parents he informed them that the treatment would be free and the deformity could be corrected. He also emphasised that if left untreated, there were chances of others in the family getting infected!
"I think it was this that made my father re-think and send me here for treatmentShe had undergone surgery and is a willing student at the physiotherapy unit. Her hand looks normal and is almost functional " I can't wait to get back to my village and show my friends my new hand," she says with glee.
Leprosy not curable, a myth, says feisty Padma
My name is Padma, and I come from a very orthodox family. When I was fifteen, I noticed that I had white patches, which the doctor confirmed as leprosy.
I got treated at the Government General Hospital at Chennai. My parents took great pains to hide my condition as in those days leprosy was a much dreaded disease. It was mandatory for the person affected by leprosy to live in isolation. As I never had visible deformities, it was relatively easy to hide my disease. When I completed my treatment I got married. However, not before long my husband left me and lives elsewhere. At present, I work as a housemaid and support myself. I have changed many jobs, as retaining work at one home is not easy. Once the family comes to know that I have leprosy I usually lose my job and have to start looking out for a job all over again.
In the midst of my struggle to earn a living I neglected my ulcer problems and as a result my leg was amputated because of cancer in the knee. I am yet to get an artificial limb but I have been assured of one after a few months.
I have had the good fortune of being treated at the Kasturba Kushta Nivarana Nilayam at Malvanthangal.
"I am happy here not only because the treatment facilities are good, I have made friends. Together we face our trials and tribulations and support one another.
Courageous Nathu Singh fights the stigma of leprosy
Nathu Singh was a man who took great pride in his body. He was a wrestler and as a young man he won several awards in his home state. The Indian railways gave him a job because they wanted him to be a part of their wrestling team.
Life was a dream, he continued to add laurel after laurel and soon settled down after having got married. When he was 45, he felt a loss of sensation in his hands and had difficulty in handling the work at the railway factory. He was diagnosed with leprosy. As word spread, his friends and family started avoiding him. Though he continued to ignore the snide remarks, he was anxious for his two children. He did not want them to be stigmatised in any manner.
"He was lucky that his wife continued to be a support and be a pillar of strengthWhen a local NGO came to conduct a survey, she enlisted her husband for treatment. He is cured now after being treated for a year.
Fortunately because of the advocacy drive by the volunteers of the organisation there has been a steady change in the attitude of those around him.
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By volunteering with us, individuals, corporates, students, institutions will come together to reduce the stigma associated diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis. As change agents, you as a volunteer will enable people affected, to live a life of dignity.
Who should volunteer
If you have the time to spare in the week and want to make a difference that is rewarding.
If you have a special skill that you would like to contribute to the work that we do.
If you are a student looking for work experience and internship opportunities.
If you are a homemaker or you want to work for a few months or few hours in a day. if you want to utilise your time post retirment in a meaningful way.
State DLO Review Meeting
With the objective of Review of the NLEP programme in the state for the year 2015-16 and the perspective of state & respective district NLEP unit on the scope of ILEP agency's involvement to the whole programme, a one day meeting was organised by SWISS EMMAUS LEPROSY RELIEF WORK INDIA in coordination with the State NLEP Society of Andhra Pradesh state. The Platform was also used to bring all the ILEP agencies working on Leprosy issue in the state for a better understanding, smooth coordination and non duplication of programme within the state. Dr. Geetha Prasadini, the Additional Director of Health service along with Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the Joint Director of Health Service presided over the meeting along with Mr. John K George, the CEO of SWISS EMMAUS LEPROSY RELIEF WORK INDIA.
HealthFirst India (A fundraising initiative of Swiss Emmaus Leprosy Relief Work India)
No. W - 504, 'C' Sector, 10th Street,
Anna Nagar Western Extension,
(Near SBOA School)
Chennai - 600 101.
13/1, 1st Floor, KHM Block,
(Opp. to Niligiris),
Ganga Nagar, RT Nagar, Bangalore - 560 032.