Basic human rights for Hansen’s disease patients

Rossana3 group pictureBased on the fact that health is a fundamental right of every human being, including the availability of health services, safe working conditions, adequate housing and nutritious foods, in 2008 the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution (A/HRC/8/L.18) “The elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members”. With this resolution, it was expected that the governments would generate strategies to prevent disability, stigma, and discrimination against the persons affected by leprosy.


As part of this objective, since 2011, NHR-Brazil (Netherlands Hansen’s disease Relief – Brazil) has been providing support to the integration project MORHAN (Reintegration Movement for People Affected by Hansen's disease).


Patient empowerment

The MORHAN organization fights for the guarantee and respect for Human Rights of the people affected by leprosy and its families with several projects since 1981 in Brazil and since 2007 in the state of Pernambuco. These projects aims to strengthening the civil societies and to convert the people into agents of their own transformation.  This aim is achieved through the empowering of the patients and campaigns to promote health.


Rossana3 folder

Leprosy awareness campaigns

Thanks to the support provided by the NHR, the MORHAN movement has presented a gradual technical and physical structure strengthening. It has reflected on the inclusion of new patients in the project and the generation of activities as the 14 leprosy awareness campaigns has done with the community to increase the knowledge of the general population regarding the disease. Another activity performed is the Seminar on Education for Hansen's disease in Pernambuco that will have its 10th edition this year. Gildo, Maria Giselle and Holly are a fundamental part of the MORHAN team.


Project MORHAN team

Gildo is the project coordinator since 2007. He was affected by the Hansen’s disease 20 years ago and still needs constant rehabilitation therapy to keep the mobility in his hands. Holly, who is a journalist, is doing a review of the history and treatment of the disease in Brazil. She is affected by the disease since 2009, and was motivated to be part of the group because she “knows the physical and mental pain that the disease generates to the patients.” Although Maria Giselle is not a patient affected by the disease and has no formal education in the disease, she has worked with the team since 2009 as a volunteer to provide support in all activities within the community. She affirms that “to obtain results, they can not only hunt the bacillus but also need to look for the contacts.”


Stigma and discrimination

As part of this internship, I participated in one of the monthly meetings of the team, where they discuss about the assistance provided to the patients which human rights are still violated due to the stigma and discrimination which are present in the hospitals, community, and government entities. They provide a big support of the patients that have issues with the medical attention, due to the lack of trained professionals in some regions, or the lack of economic and physical resources to provide the necessary services in the installations of the hospitals.

Rossana3 patient hands


Second grade physical impairment

One of the patients that they were helping was Maurineia. She is a 37 years old patient, who had been diagnosed wrongly 12 years ago. She was in treatment and got cured of the disease. However, she has second grade physical impairment in hands and feet. Due to the impairment of her feet, she requires orthopedic support in her shoes to be able to walk. However she has infected open sores in her left foot, which cannot be cured because she cannot access the services of rehabilitation and treatment in the closest hospital. Even when Maurineia has several difficulties, she is an active agent who promotes the health rights of the diverse groups that she belongs, and with her unique happy personality incentive others to actively participate in activities as chorus, self-care groups, meetings among other activities.


Fighting for the elimination of discrimination

The activities performed by the MORHAN team make a significant difference for patients with Hansen’s disease, fighting for the elimination of discrimination against them and give them back the right to have acces to health services according with their necessities. Thanks MORHAN team to let me participate in your meeting and share with me some of your experiences.



Blog written by Rossana,

Brazil, 27th May 2017









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