Spreading the word on leprosy

Published: Thu 2 Mar 2017 03:04 PM
Media release – Otago Polytechnic
For immediate release, March 2, 2017
Spreading the word on leprosy
While most of us were recovering from Christmas overeating and enjoying the summer break, an Otago Polytechnic nursing student travelled to Nepal to investigate leprosy.
Anna Watkins is driven by her desire to help people, and there was no hesitation when the twenty-year old applied for a scholarship with Leprosy Mission NZ.
Anna and eight other youth advocates from around New Zealand stayed in Nepal for two weeks, observing the work being done there to care for people with leprosy. They’ve now returned home with their own mission - to raise $30,000 for an Xray machine at Leprosy Mission Nepal’s hospital, Anandaban Hospital.
Anna’s still developing her fundraising plans, but is hoping to start with bake-stalls at Otago Polytechnic.
Nepal wasn’t the first mission for the third-year nursing student. Two years ago, she helped at the Watoto Baby-home in Uganda.
“Mission work is very important to me. I want to make sure healthcare is available to people that don’t have easy access to it. I’m interested in continuing this work when I finish my degree, but I know I’ll need to consolidate my skills in New Zealand first”.
Leprosy facts
• Leprosy is curable with multidrug therapy.
• The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, the upper respiratory tract and the eyes.
• The incubation period for the disease is about 5 years on average.
• Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae.
• Leprosy is not highly infectious. It is transmitted via mouth and nose droplets during close and frequent contact.
• Untreated leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes.

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