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World Lymphoedema Day

6 MARCH

During this Lymphoedema Awareness Week the ILF has tried to show you how the national frameworks are working in their own countries to further the treatment of lymphoedema.
The greatest cause of lymphoedema is filiaris, a parasitic disease caused by worms which is prevalent in India and Africa. So today we want you to be aware of one hospital in Kerala, India – the work they are doing, and how the pandemic has affected them.

Institute of Applied Dermatology, India
Institute of Applied Dermatology (IAD) located in Kasaragod district of Kerala founded in 1999 as a not for profit, charitable nongovernmental organization. IAD developed an integrated approach for the treatment for lymphatic blocks due to filarial, primary, secondary, and other causes of lymphoedema (Elephantiasis). This was done by effectively combining Allopathy (biomedicine), Ayurveda, and yoga. Being the pioneers in the field of integrative treatment for Filariasis, now IAD is recognised as the lead institution in the world by the peers in lymphoedema care.

Members of the ILF Board have visited this facility and support them in their work. However, their work has been severely curtailed in the past 12 months. Dr. Narahari, Director and Dermatologist at IAD, recently communicated the following information:

“The dream of IAD, to provide adequate care for all Lymphatic Filariasis patients at an affordable cost was shattered when the Indian government imposed the countrywide lockdown on March 24th to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus. COVID-19 has created an unexpected economic crisis everywhere. The health care services are not exempt from this, nor IAD and its morale. Twenty years of IAD’s selfless service came to a screeching halt. Travel restrictions, fear to visit hospitals, job loss, and uncertainty of the future all piled up, and patients turned away from hospitals. IAD’s in-flow of the patients drastically reduced to a single digit. Our staff went jobless and voluntarily took unpaid leaves to reduce the economic burden of IAD.

Despite the travel restrictions being lifted, people still curtail their outside activities. The economy is still in shambles; job loss is a daily reality. Lymphatic Filariasis patients generally come from poor economic conditions. It has been IAD’s policy to treat every patient who walks in with warmth and care regardless of his social and financial status. About one-fourth of the patients have been treated at a concessional rate, thanks to generous donors. We have recognized a few LF patients who urgently require medical care for their condition. Still, we cannot provide them with treatment due to a lack of donations. We have requested our highly skilled treatment staff to work voluntarily in this challenging situation. But this will not run for long, and IAD is slowly bleeding dry.

The belief that the health care sector is immune to the recession and demand for medical service is relatively constant every time is no more valid. COVID-19 proved it wrong, with many hospitals cutting down their services. Health care workers are losing their jobs. IAD too is at the brink of collapse. So we appeal for financial assistance to safeguard our highly skilled staff as well as treat our physically disabled and economically weak patients. IAD has survived due to generous philanthropists and its self-generated income till today, but now without pay, we rely on you to support us financially. We would be grateful for this gesture, and so will the thousands of patients who can benefit from your contribution to enhancing the quality of their lives.”

In view of Dr. Narahari’s call for assistance to the ILF and its international network, asking for financial support to help overcome the crisis created by the corona virus and pandemic which is now threatening the survival of the IAD, the ILF Board of Directors has decided to respond to this call in two ways: A) By making financial contributions of the association and privately to the IAD and B) By circulating this request in the entire ILF network and setting up a subpage of the ILF website which will be used to share information about how to donate to the IAD.

If you feel able to donate to this cause please see our website at https://www.lympho.org/support-the-iad/. All donations received will be used for patients and the running of the hospital.