Philippine Leprosy Mission celebrates 50th year of service

My sister, Dr. Belen Lardizabal-Dofitas is a dermatologist and currently serves as the Vice-President and Executive Officer of the Philippine Leprosy Mission (PLM). I am sharing the press release of PLM’s 50th anniversary celebration. You will find more about Hansen’s disease or Leprosy in this article, Destigmatizing leprosy.

His is a story that would make anyone weep. Diagnosed last 2000 with Hansen’s disease, Donald V. has since lost his home, been abandoned by his wife, and even had his own parents turn their backs on him. And, despite having been adequately treated since then, he continues to agonize through the insecurity that the disease’s physical and psychological impact has imprinted on him. Needless to say, he has thought about ending his life at several points in the past.

Yet he carries on, largely through the social and emotional support that he derives from the Philippine Leprosy Mission (PLM). He also feels very grateful to the PLM for having supported his daughter through college.

He says, “Malaki ang utang na loob ko… dahil tinulungan nila ako, kahit papano, napa-aral nila yung anak ko…” (“I am extremely indebted [to the PLM]… because they helped send my child to school.”)

The Philippine Leprosy Mission, a non-government mission organization, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on April 10, 2012. The organization began in the early 1920s as the Philippine Evangelical Leprosy Mission (PELM), a group of missionaries sent to take care of the spiritual and physical needs of Protestant patients in what was then known as the Culion Leper Colony. In 1962, the Philippine Leprosy Mission was registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission and has been a major partner of the Department of Health in leprosy control ever since.

A Thanksgiving service and dinner will be held on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at the Bayanihan Center, United Laboratories compound, Pasig City from 4-11PM. Long-time partners from the Department of Health-National Leprosy Control Program, local government, donors, and the private sector will join in the celebration and take time to look back at PLM’s legacy over the past 50 years as it worked towards the careand rehabilitation of persons affected by leprosy.

Persons Affected by Leprosy (PALs) will be given a special treat called “PALs Day” by PLM and the Section of Dermatology, Philippine General Hospital on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 (10AM-1PM). A free show featuring four local magicians and a lunch will be held at the UP College of Medicine Class 72 Theater.

Leprosy is a chronic, infectious disease of the nerves and the skin caused by a bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae. Whitish or reddish skin lesions and nerve damage to the eyes, hands, and feet may occur especially when left untreated. Although leprosy is curable through Multi-Drug Therapy, it remains to be one of the most challenging diseases due to the stigma and discrimination that it causes. Philippine Leprosy Mission has focused its efforts on early detection, treatment, physical and socioeconomic rehabilitation of persons affected by leprosy in order to reduce the physical and psychosocial effects of this disease. Although the number of leprosy cases and complications have been greatly reduced over the past 50 years, much work remains to be done in order to maintain leprosy control. Around 3000 new cases are uncovered yearly in our country.The support of the public will enable PLM to continue its valuable work.

Here are details on how you can help from their website www.leprosy.org.ph or call (02)3321735.

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