Responding to the challenge of leprosy-related disability and ultra-poverty
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Introduction: The Millennium Development Goals have provided much needed attention to extreme poverty reduction. However, people with disabilities are disproportionately affected by poverty and in some countries, even the goal of US$1 per day is far out of reach. For people with leprosy-related disability living in ultrapoverty (on less than 50 cents a day), many mainstream poverty reduction strategies are inaccessible and inappropriate. Method: A project in north-west Bangladesh developed a more contextually meaningful definition of ultra-poverty according to nutrition energy intake. A total of 2372 people with leprosy-related disability were surveyed. Of those, 1285 individuals fell below the ultra-poverty line. Individualised interventions were implemented over an extended period of time, comprised of targeted practical assistance, enhancing community links, advocacy for entitlements, and further linking with other initiatives. Results: Follow-up data available for 856 individuals showed an average increase in per capita income of 83%. Personal contribution to the family income increased by 65%. There was a 51% increase in families having access to a latrine. Finally families reported eating 30% more meals per day, up from an average of two meals per day. Conclusions: The initiative sought to address poverty in a wide variety of ways, using minimal inputs. Over several years, the results indicate a significant change in the economic situation of individuals with leprosy related disabilities. Other organisations are encouraged to duplicate the intervention and share their results.
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Social Work not elsewhere classified