At the beginning of the 1950s, a large international movement led to
the creation, throughout Europe, of a large number of committees set up
to help people suffering from leprosy. At that time, the Grand Magistry
of the Sovereign Hospitaller Order
of Malta was offered the opportunity to demonstrate its multisecular
hospitaller activities and created in Geneva the International Committee
of the Order of Malta for Leprosy Relief (CIOMAL) in conjunction with the
World Health Organisation (WHO) which laid
down the foundations for a vast program which expressed itself in the ambitious
goal of "Health for all by the year 2000"
As a member of the International Federation of organisations fighting
against leprosy (ILEP), the aims of CIOMAL are as follow :
- to establish contacts with the the governments representatives and
with international organisations ;
- to ensure the screening of sufferers by specialised medical personnel;
- to provide medical treatment to patients in accordance with the recommendations
laid down by the World Health Organisation;
- to construct, equip and finance leprosy treatment centres;
- to recruit and form local personnel;
- to educate the population fo the countries concerned about health standards
and to undertake information campaigns.
The funds of CIOMAL are provided through an annual collection at the time
of the World Leprosy Day whose date was fixed for the last Sunday in January,
a quarterly information sheet, legacies and diverse gifts all of which are
allocated to the different leprosy treatment centres situated in the poorest
of the developing countries.
CIOMAL is the initiator of a review on leprology - Acta Leprologica - which
regroups articles by medical specialists on epidemiology, immunology, therapy,
physiotherapy and surgery, etc., and which is sent out to 1600 subscribers
who find in this publication the necessary material for their ongoing formation
Thanks to the colossal efforts made by CIOMAL and all the associations which
are members of ILEP, the struggle agains Hansen's disease has proved its
efficacity as the number of lepers has passed from 15 million to 4 million.
The problem is now to be able to treat the patients who live in remote regions
which are reached with difficulty (for geographical or political reasons),
and to place the accent on their social rehabilitation so that they don't
fall victims to mendicity and, ultimately, to death.
The eradication of leprosy from the world is a challenge which is ready
to be taken up by all the associations created for this purpose in those
countries in which Hansen's disease is a thing of the past