Beauty Contestants Show No Fear or Blame In The Face of Leprosy
For the 66th World Leprosy Day, the CIOMAL Foundation organised an open house morning in Phnom
Penh on 30th January.
Two hundred visitors joined the event, including university students and professors, representatives of national and international org anisations, as well as about one hundred people affected by leprosy.
Opened in 2000 on the island situated across from the Cambodian capital’s historic heart, the Kien Kh-
leang Leprosy Rehabilitation Center was particularly busy on that day.
At the start of the morning, CIOMAL members and patients put together a funny performance to communicate one of the most important messages about leprosy: the disease can be cured and nothing justifies the stigmatisation of those affected. By way of demonstration, Miss Cambodia and her runners-up paraded in the middle of the audience before having long exchanges with persons affected by leprosy.
Today, leprosy affects over 3 million people (sick or recovering) around the world. The neglected tropi-
cal disease mostly hits the poorest areas. More than 240,000 new cases are detected every year, 5% of
which are children under the age of 15.
Because it leaves marks on the skin, leprosy also results in social exclusion, particularly in schools, workplaces and health centers.
A key player for over 60 years, the CIOMAL Foundation is active in Cambodia on several fronts: prevention and awareness-raising, early detection of the disease, medical and surgical treatments, socio-economic rehabilitation, local capacity-building.
In 2018, the Kien Khleang center opened a new orthopedic department. The CIOMAL teams also supported the creation of the first Cambodian association of persons with leprosy-related disabilities, a way to make their voices heard in Cambodia as well as at the international level.
In the same year, the Kien Khleang center provided 5,611 people (including 1,373 children) with free dermatological consultations. More than 758 persons affected by leprosy were treated, including 166 patients who received surgery. Its rehabilitation programmes helped 38 families secure microcredit, as well as 32 school children and 6 students receive scholarships. In addition, awareness-raising activities reached 56,610 garment workers in 12 factories.