Your Gifts at Work: October-December 2023

Transform Liberia | Skin NTDs Labnet | Nigeria Med Shipment | Footwear in Bihar | Annual Report

January 29, 2024

TRANSFORMing Health Care Access in Liberia

In November, our program manager, Tiawanlyn Godwin-Akpan, took a trip into rural Liberia as part of our TRANSFORM project. The roads were so bad that one of the three vehicles broke down and we continued with only two! 

TRANSFORM supports Liberia’s ministry of health as they make quality care and treatment accessible to everyone affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). While the progress of remote health facilities was encouraging, this trip showed us some of the challenges faced by patients: just reaching a clinic or hospital can be incredibly difficult.

This is why we’re proud to be part of this project. Regardless of where they live, suffering people deserve care and expertise so they can regain hope and live whole lives. 

Leprosy Vaccine

The rough roads didn’t stop us! Our program manager, Tiawanlyn Godwin-Akpan (center, flower shirt) reviewing a facility’s plans and resources with partners and Liberia’s NTD Program Director, Karsor Kollie (red hat). Staff photos credit: Effect Hope

Expanding Africa’s Largest Laboratory Network

American Leprosy Missions supported the formation of the Buruli Ulcer Laboratory Network in 2019. This is the largest lab network in Africa, with 13 participating labs all committed to the same quality standards when testing for the flesh-eating disease, Buruli ulcer (BU). Since its creation, the network’s labs have processed over 7,000 tests. 

In October, American Leprosy Missions staff attended the network’s fifth annual meeting and witnessed an important announcement: the network is expanding to test for other skin NTDs like leprosy! 

Just like for BU, the network is developing testing protocols for leprosy, yaws, mycetoma and cutaneous leishmaniasis. As these labs become the Skin NTDs Laboratory Network, thousands more people will receive prompt and accurate diagnoses for skin NTDs, thanks to your support.

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The October meeting launched the new Skin NTDs Laboratory Network! Photo credit: Noguchi Memorial Institute, University of Ghana. 

“Where we find one skin NTD, we find another, so there is no need for us to work in silos. Working together, we will be able to leverage the limited resources available to improve the health of our people.”

        – Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Ghana


Medical Supplies Reach Christian Partners in Nigeria  

Our most recent medical shipment cleared Nigerian customs in record time! We’re thrilled that these critical medicines and supplies reached our partner organization, Red Aid Nigeria, so quickly after arriving in November.

As of January, Red Aid delivered the supplies to two Christian hospitals: St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s. We hope to visit St. Joseph’s Hospital in February to see their work in person. 

Your generous gifts make it possible for us to ship life-changing medicine and supplies to hospital partners who are restoring hope to thousands of people—thank you!

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The process from start to finish! The shipment is packed and sent from a US warehouse, unloaded at Red Aid Nigeria’s headquarters, then dispersed to St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s hospitals. Thank you for making these shipments possible! 

Going the “Extra Mile” to Meet Community Needs in Bihar

People affected by leprosy often lose sensation in their feet due to nerve damage. This makes them vulnerable to ulcers, injuries and infections, so protective footwear is critical to maintain a whole, healthy life. 

We’ve met hundreds of people through our Jagruti project in Bihar, India who need this kind of footwear but had no access to it. Now that we’ve trained local shoemakers on how to create these shoes and introduced a new process using digital scans, suffering people are receiving custom footwear for the first time! 

From October to December, 190 people received custom footwear made by local cobblers, bringing our project’s total to 814 people! An additional 51 people in Bihar received custom insoles printed at the Schieffelin Institute: our Christian hospital partner 1000 miles south of Bihar! 

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The Schieffelin Institute can print insoles on its CAD-CAM machine using digital scans. This approach makes custom footwear accessible to people in Bihar who would never be able to travel to Schieffelin!

To produce more complicated insoles, Jagruti staff in Bihar take a scan of a person’s foot and send it to the Schieffelin Institute; Schieffelin uses that digital file to print an insole on their CAD-CAM machine. After Schieffelin mails the new insole back to Bihar, local cobblers can complete the shoes. 

Because local businesses are vital to supplying footwear, we’ve continued training shoemakers in Bihar. In December, we organized a two-day training session for six local cobblers on making and repairing custom shoes. Each cobbler produced one pair of shoes during the training. 

With more local craftsmen able to create custom footwear, people in Bihar will have sustainable services nearby–your support for our project has made this change possible!

Your Impact in 2023 

Thanks to your generous gifts, our work around the world continues: channeling Christ’s love by bringing hope and healing to people suffering from neglected tropical diseases like leprosy. Every year when we reflect on our projects and impact, we’re amazed by God’s goodness. 

See your impact in our 2023 annual report!

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