India's leprosy sufferers

Leprosy On the streets of India, the outstretched begging hands of those crippled by leprosy is still a common site. Over half a million people suffer from various forms of the disease.
While globally medicine has had a major impact in preventing Leprosy it's still proving difficult to eradicate. In a culture that widely considers leprosy as divine intervention, the atonement for past sins, carriers are reluctant to seek treatment until it's too late. And so the government has mobilised an operation to seek out the infected while it's still early enough to prescribe effective treatment. "Looking for cases in the villages is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack," despairs a doctor but after screening a phenomenal 200,000 people they have successfully treated 45 new cases of leprosy. Equipped with casebooks cataloguing horrific photos of leper's lesions and withered limbs, the doctors shock villagers into succumbing to the tests, despite the possible humiliation. "When they told me I had leprosy I cried. I knew that people would reject me and they have. They see that I am ill - they see it on my hands and the infection of my feet." The crisis facing countries like India is rehabilitating these people back into society. And as long as prejudice rules many will continue to be treated as the social outcasts of old.

Produced by Marion Mayor-Hohdahl

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