The Anandaban Leprosy Hospital near Lalitpur, Kathmandu
The Leprosy Mission is active in as many as 34 countries around the world and it has a long association with the people of Guernsey and the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission. It started its work in Nepal in 1957 with the establishment of a hospital specializing in the care and treatment of leprosy patients at Anandaban a few kilometres south of the capital city Kathmandu. Since then the hospital has gone from strength to strength and has gained an international reputation as a centre of excellence especially in the field of research. It now receives referrals from all over Nepal and also from parts of India with people making long and arduous journeys for the chance to be seen and treated there. In Nepal alone there are as many as 3,429 new cases of leprosy diagnosed each year. If caught early these new cases are amenable to antimicrobial therapy but in the wider community there already exists a huge burden of disability, deformity, social exclusion and chronic ill health resulting from leprosy that to a large extent still needs to be recognised and addressed.
Over the years the people of Guernsey have helped TLM Nepal by funding several projects at Anandaban Hospital including an earthquake resistant inpatient ward for female patients, an accommodation block for hospital staff and a biogester waste disposal unit. On a visit in November 2019 Dr Nick and Claudine were able to see for themselves the amazing work being done at the hospital and were able to go into the operating theatre to watch a pioneering tendon reconstruction operation being performed on a patient with a claw hand deformity that was affecting his ability to earn a living. At the busy outpatient clinic in Lalitpur they also met a retired soldier who had served in the Gurkha Regiment and had successfully undergone surgery for a dropped foot caused by leprosy.
TLM Nepal also runs a disability inclusive community development programme for people affected by leprosy that concentrates not just on health but also on education, sustainable livelihoods, advocacy and capacity building. In the very south of the country at Chitwan the Madi Eco-Community Agricultural Co-operative is an excellent example of a successful self-help savings, loans and livelihoods project set up by TLM for disadvantaged members of the Tharau community.
At Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara, the second biggest city in Nepal, TLM works in partnership with the International Nepal Fellowship who recently received a grant from Guernsey to develop the hospital’s acute trauma service. In similar fashion to Anandaban Hospital, Green Pastures has been caring for leprosy patients for the past 60 years with the focus very much on reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease as well as on timely treatment and effective physiotherapy and rehabilitation.