Leprosy is most commonly cured by a combination of three drugs: Dapsone, Rifampicin and Clofazimine. This is known as Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT).
When administered to patients in the early stages of infection, MDT can cure leprosy in as little as 6 months. A more advanced case could take up to 2 years to cure. The Novartis Foundation provides these three drugs, free of charge, to the World Health Organization (WHO). The medication is then provided to the governments of countries where leprosy is a public health concern.
Unfortunately, there are some side effects. MDT can cause nerve inflammation as pressure around the nerve sheath builds from the growing presence of millions of bacilli. A patient can also develop nodules on his or her body (often on the arms or face) that are the result of painful swelling of the nerve endings, or millions of leprosy bacilli clustering beneath the skin.
Even after patients are cured of leprosy, the effects may still be visible. Some have clawed hand, others’ bones have retracted, and some lose their sight. The treatment for leprosy doesn’t end at MDT; effect:hope (The Leprosy Mission Canada) and its partners provide reconstructive surgery and amputations.
Patients also experience pain after an amputation or reconstructive surgery. Often, there is a limited supply of pain killers available in effect:hope (The Leprosy Mission Canada)’s hospitals, which causes even more suffering to the patient.