Working with others to tackle disability

Leprosy is a severely disabling disease of poverty

Leprosy can lead to severe and lasting disabilities. We work collaboratively in many settings to prevent people from becoming impaired by leprosy, and to stop existing impairments turning into disabilities.

Leprosy-related disability has a profound effect on the person, their family and the whole community. It may affect the person’s day to day activities and their capacity to do things at home or work. However for people affected by leprosy, disability is much more than just having an impairment or not being able to perform certain tasks. The discrimination and stigma that so often accompany leprosy-related disability are usually the main things that restrict their involvement in work, school, community and social life.

Across the ILEP Federation, we realise that responding to leprosy-related disability is not just a matter of providing some exercises or therapy. A comprehensive response to meeting needs will include things like:

  • health services (providing surgery, vital medications, physical treatment and care),
  • disability prevention and health promotion (providing footwear and other aids, and helping people look after themselves to prevent further injuries),
  • building capabilities (helping people with leprosy-related disabilities to learn new work and life skills),
  • social action (helping people tackle social and environmental issues that limit their involvement in home, in family and community life),
  • tackling disability-related discrimination and stigma (addressing things like social attitudes, beliefs, discriminatory laws, and the media).

ILEP members collaborate with many organisations and departments in this work. We connect with international and inter-government organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the UN Human Rights Council. We collaborate closely with government ministries and departments in all of the countries where we work, including ministries of health, social welfare, labour, etc. We engage with other non-government organisations working in areas of healthcare, disability and rehabilitation, social care, related neglected tropical diseases, international development, and human rights. Importantly, we also seek to work closely with local and international organisations of people affected by leprosy, and disabled person’s organisations. They are the partners who are best placed to understand the realities and impact disability on their day-to-day lives, and to inform many aspects of our work.

ILEP is a member of The International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) that aims to promote inclusive development. ILEP Members have been active in lobbying and working alongside governments and international bodies in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) to include people with disabilities in all aspects of life. Read more about the 17 SDGs here.