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Delivering the Voice of the People ~FY2019 Activity Report (2) MORHAN’s Organizational Strengthening (Brazil)

A branch-strengthening workshop in Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso.

Brazil has the second-highest number of cases of Hansen’s disease in the world. Annual new cases numbers stand at around 28,000; this is 13% of the world total and 92% of the total for the Americas. Patients are concentrated in the northeast and midwest of the country; they are economically deprived and have poor access to healthcare. In addition, because of the existence of deep-rooted stigma and discrimination, there are many reports of patients not going to hospital or not being able to go to hospital. For Brazil, early detection and treatment of Hansen’s disease are major issues.

 

MORHAN is a volunteer organization centered on persons affected by Hansen’s disease. Its nearly 2,000 members—persons affected, their families, students and citizens—engage in awareness campaigns through the media, new case detection campaigns, and advocacy at the policy level in order to eliminate the discrimination attached to Hansen’s disease. Through these efforts, MORHAN has achieved much by utilizing its highly motivated membership and networking with other organizations. But because it is a volunteer organization, it faces issues that affect the sustainability of its activities with respect to organizational operations as well funding. 

 

In order to bolster MORHAN’s operations, therefore, Sasakawa Health Foundation has supported the strengthening of branch offices, volunteer training and media activities in endemic states.

 

If each branch is able to obtain the status of a legal entity, it is possible for MORHAN to send representatives to the health council of the registered municipality and reflect the voices of persons affected by Hansen’s disease in policy decisions. Further, it can also qualify for a subsidy from the local municipality. In FY2019, the first year of the project, 12 branches were established in 9 states and 4 have completed their registration as a legal entity.

 

For the training of volunteers, 12 teaching materials covering medical aspects of Hansen’s disease and human rights issues of persons affected have been completed and distributed to around 200 volunteers online.

 

The empowerment of persons affected by the disease is essential for Hansen’s disease control activities and with this in mind Sasakawa Health Foundation will continue to support MORHAN’s organizational strengthening in the next fiscal year.