Rufiji Leprosy Trust is a charitable trust supporting the Kindwitwi Leprosy Care Centre in the Rufiji area of Tanzania.
The care centre assists in:
~ finding and treating people living with leprosy in the Rufiji area
~ supporting people all people affected by leprosy throughout the Rufiji area
~ promoting self-sufficiency of people living with leprosy and their families.
As leprosy is curable, many think the disease is no longer a problem, however it is listed as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) by the World Health Organisation, which means it is especially common in some of the world’s poorest areas.
The Trust prides itself on being totally managed by volunteer Trustees; the only paid employees are those who carry out the Trust’s work in Tanzania.
It’s National Volunteers week in the UK.
Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place from 1st-7th June every year.
From people who organise fundraising initiatives to our trustees who give their time voluntarily, we’d like to thank all volunteers involved in Rufiji Leprosy Trust helping to improve the lives of those living with leprosy in Kindwitwi.
Through the hard work and dedication of volunteers, people’s lives have been changed and Kindwitwi has come a long way since its establishment. As well as better living conditions and more opportunities, what is encouraging is the stigma of leprosy associated with the village is being overcome.
Just recently we were delighted to hear the local district Ward Development Committee selected the Kindwitwi hamlet as the administrative headquarters of the local district Chemchem Ward.
This committee includes: Ward Councillor (chairperson), Ward Executive Officer and all chairpersons of the villages of this Ward. The government-funded building is now almost complete and will have office space for the Ward Executive Officer, Ward Councillor, Ward Agricultural Officer and Ward Education Coordinator.
The new office is just 100 metres from the Kindwitwi Leprosy Care Centre ward where we care for older people affected by leprosy unable to look after themselves and other houses to the south.
This is a tremendous result!
It is a clear sign the village is now considered a place to be visited instead of a place to be avoided.Click to read full story
Last month, our co-chair Dr Sarah Feather presented at seminar hosted by the Britain Tanzania Society.
Entitled ‘Leprosy in Rural Tanzania: Detection, Treatment and Overcoming the Stigma’, Dr Sarah Feather talked about leprosy and some of the issues faced at both a global and local level.
“Although the burden of leprosy globally is carried by Indonesia, India and Brazil, the disease still has a significant prevalence across Africa. 2422 new cases were detected in Tanzania in 2105,” said Dr Feather. “Nationally this is not at a level where leprosy is formally classed as a public health problem, but there are some districts where prevalence is above the rate of 1 in 10,000 population, notably Liwale and Lindi.”
95% of people have a natural immunity to leprosy and it is not easily transmitted. It can remain in the body for up to twenty years before showing itself as a numb patch or an area of loss of skin pigment. It often goes unnoticed until the more serious complications, such as loss of sensation at the finger tips start to develop. By this time people affected are at high risk of disability as loss of feeling makes them more vulnerable to injuries which eventually leads to loss of fingers and toes.
The District TB and Leprosy co-ordinators have to ensure staff in rural dispensaries can recognise early signs of the disease; a further challenge for them is ensuring people with the disease complete their treatment, which is a six or twelve-month course of antibiotic, depending on disease severity at presentation. The Tanzanian government has invested significant resources making sure the supply of drugs to treat leprosy and complications of treatment is robust.
“There are still many myths surrounding the disease with some people still believing it is caused by witchcraft and that it is incurable. Historically villages would cast out anyone who became affected by the disease which increased the stigma attached to the disease,” she said.
“We can all help reduce the stigma associated with the disease by avoiding using the term ‘leper’ when referring to people affected by leprosy. It is an outdated term associated with stigma and being out an outcast. Modern reality is that once diagnosed with leprosy people can receive treatment in their home, be supported learn how to prevent development and progression of disabilities and continue to live and work in their community.”
Dr Feather outlined the ongoing work of The Rufiji Leprosy Trust was set up over thirty years ago to build on the work started by Father Robin Lamburn in the village of Kindwitwi.
“Currently it supports elderly villagers who are so disabled from the effects of leprosy that they are unable to care for themselves. It supports those who can work with agricultural projects and, via a kindergarten and secondary school sponsorship, ensures children from families affected by leprosy have full educational opportunities. It funds a shoemaker to provide bespoke shoes for those with foot disabilities,” she said.
Although nationally the challenge of disease detection and support of those affected by leprosy is still significant, much progress has been made in the past ten years towards elimination of the disease as public health problem.
After the presentation, attendees discussed some of the issues raised.
Once again, we are very grateful to the Britain Tanzania Society for giving us the opportunity to talk about the work we do in Kindwitwi.
Further leprosy statistics can be found on the WHO website.Click to read full story
Hear our Co-chair, Dr Sarah Feather talk about Leprosy in Rural Tanzania: Detection, Treatment and Overcoming the Stigma at a seminar hosted by the Britain Tanzania Society.
Dr Feather visited Kindwitwi in 1983 with a group of young people from the Diocese of Hereford, then did her medical student elective in the village, and has been returning on and off ever since. She became a trustee in 1989.
Details of the event:
Date: 6th March 2017
Time: 5pm to 7pm
Location: School of Oriental and African Studies, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
There is no need to book in advance – but it would assist in planning if you could let Andrew Coulson know you are coming – email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Britain Tanzania Society was founded in 1975 to improve communications and understanding between the UK and Tanzania. It is a non-political, non-governmental organisation, which aims to increase mutual knowledge, understanding and respect between the peoples of Britain and Tanzania through seminars, events and publications, and through the development of education, health, water and sanitation and other self-help community development activities and the promotion of gender equality.
If you are unable to attend the event, click here to see it streamed live.
Thank you Britain Tanzania Society for giving us the opportunity to talk about leprosy in Tanzania.Click to read full story