I am a freelance photographer and visual artist based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia working with National Geographic Russia, VICE UK/USA, De Volkskrant, Takie Dela, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, others. My photographic practice primarily focuses on the...
Leprosy is a chronic disease causing the permanent damage to the nerves, leading to the loss of the limbs and blindness in case of late treatment. Leprosy was eliminated in Europe in the beginning of the 20th century with the help of the vaccine invented by the Venezuelan doctor Jacinto Convit. The vaccine prevented the diseased from spreading the bacterias and infecting people around making them absolutely harmful.
However in Asia leprosy is still a big problem. Nepal, India and Burma have the biggest concentration of the diseased in the world. The impossibility of elimination of leprosy in the aforesaid countries have the number or reasons. First of all its ecology – pollution leads to the easier spread of the bacterias, secondly its the low quality of life, food and water which leads to the weakening of the immune system of people residing in the region making them more vulnerable to the disease.
Nowadays around 100 thousand of leprosy affected people reside in Nepal. The disease is a taboo in this country. In rural regions of Nepal taboo flourishes due to the lack of access to education. The vast majority of the rural people consider the disease as the curse of gods having no idea thatit can be successfully treated. The residents of the Central region of Nepal also cannot get full information about the disease and the easy possibility of its treatment as local journalists do not cover the issue because of its taboo nature. The taboo paves the road to discrimination of the diseased who face insults and threats of the neighbors or family members every single day in their home villages, especially those who have lost their limbs. That is the reason why the leprosy affected persons have to leave their dwellings to reside on the streets or in the specialized colonies built for the diseased far away from the populated areas.
Daily routine of the diseased residing in the oldest leprosy colony in Nepal – Khokana, founded in the beginning of the 20th century. The colony is located 20 km from the nearest settlement. About 200 people live here. Residents help each other as best they can. Some simple tasks as dressing, brushing hairs or cooking are beyond the power of some of them - in a neglected form, leprosy leads to disability and loss of limbs. The able bodied residents of the colony also make crafts from beads, which are sold through the NGO that oversees the colony.
Daily routine, doctors' work and treatment processes in the biggest leprosy centre in Nepal – Lalgadh operating under the supervision of Nepal Leprosy Trust NGO. The hospital serves 100 patients. The treatment of leprosy is a very painstaking and debilitating process that includes hormone therapy. And not only adults, but also children become victims of the disease who are also represented among patients. The hospital is also engaged in research and educational activities.