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Sakshi’s story: Preventing life-long disabilities in children with leprosy

January 11, 2018

When Sakshi was just ten, she noticed her little finger on her right hand had become swollen and painful. After a few weeks her whole hand became numb, and she found she was having trouble gripping her pencil. Her classmates began to notice and started bullying her, calling her “lulli”, a derogatory term for someone who is disabled. Eventually she had to stop going to school because she could not keep up with her school work.

Sakshi’s parents took her to the health centre in her village, Tetia Bamber, however she was misdiagnosed and prescribed drugs which cost 400Rs (£4) a week, yet did not treat her condition.

After receiving appropriate treatment, Sakshi is able to write again and resume her education. Credit: Lepra.

After completing a year of treatment at a cost of over 20,800Rs (£200) and seeing no improvement in her condition, her family took her to see an orthopaedic surgeon who referred her to the District Hospital where she was diagnosed with leprosy. Sakshi was then sent to Lepra’s referral centre for specialised care, where she completed a 12-month MDT and steroid course to treat the disease. She also received physiotherapy and assistive devices to improve the flexibility and strength in her hand and she has now regained the use of her hand, can now grip well and is able to write once again.

Unfortunately due to lack of training at the Tetia Bamber health centre Sakshi had to endure a year experiencing the effects of leprosy, and missing out on her education and childhood, whilst her family had to pay for an expensive and incorrect treatment. However, thanks to a quick diagnosis at the District Hospital and treatment by our staff at the Munger referral centre Sakshi was treated in time to stop any permanent disability setting in, this has allowed her to return to a normal life. She is very happy with the results of her treatment and has now gone back to her school to continue her studies and fulfil her dream to become a teacher.

“When I was diagnosed with leprosy my family were very worried and thought no one would want to marry me in the future. But now I am feeling well and confident. I have re-joined my school and hope to become a mathematics teacher when I am older.”

– With thanks to Lepra for sharing this case study.

A smiling Sakshi is able to lead a life free of disability from leprosy and the opportunity to achieve her dreams. Credit: Lepra.