ASHA, justifying the meaning of ‘HOPE’.

Swiss Emmaus Leprosy Relief Work India in collaboration with Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Alert India initiated a community-based project (MH-POID project) for the people affected by leprosy in Dhule and Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. Health system strengthening was one of the major objectives and in resultant to which thousands of ASHA’s were trained along with other health care professionals who were directly or indirectly rendering their services to people affected by leprosy. This in turn motivated the ASHAs resulting in high number of new case detection, diagnosis with immediate treatment, hence surging the reduction in the deformity rate to a considerable extent. The ASHA workers did not only help in removal of the stigma against leprosy from the local community, but also provided the initial level of counselling and support to the people and their families. One such success story was published by National Leprosy Eradication Program, in their latest newsletter as below.

Real-time information

Asha Mrs Arti Dhangar,Jalgaon District

Article 21 of the Constitution of India gives everyone the right to live. This is not merely a physical right, but also includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity. Leprosy is curable, and, if detected early and treated, permanent deformities and disabilities can be prevented. Persons affected can lead a normal life. However, people affected by leprosy may have to face stigma and discrimination on account of lack of awareness in the community. The ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists) who are based in rural communities play a leading role in restoring the dignity to the lives of people affected by leprosy.

Mrs. Aarti Dhangar, an ASHA from Chandsar PHC (Primary Health Centre) in Jalgaon District of Maharashtra State came across a case involving the matrimony of a girl from her community. A girl named Jyoti (name changed to maintain the patient privacy), aged 19 years, was diagnosed with leprosy in the past and had completed her treatment with MDT. She was leading a completely normal life and was preparing for her marriage. Suddenly bridegroom’s family came to know about her having been treated for leprosy, and they became reluctant about continuing with the matrimonial alliance. As the bride’s family was close to the ASHA, they consulted her in this regard. ASHA immediately came to their rescue and counselled the groom’s family. She educated them on leprosy, explained them Jyoti’s cured status, and assured them that she was as normal and healthy as anybody else in the family. She also explained that there was no risk for anyone contacting the disease if she got married in the family.

Published In - NLEP Master Issue (October 2018 – September 2020) page - 26