Considered third mycobacterial disease affecting human behind leprosy and tuberculosis, which it exceeds even in terms of prevalence in certain regions of Benin, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, WHO classifies burili ulcer as
An emerging disease.
Having encountered some victims of this disease, Fr. Francis gives us the account of how he met them and who takes care of them.
The secretary of the leprosarium comes to greet us on our arrival because the chief doctor was absent. He was on mission in the region of Gagnoa, the study consists of taking samples to be analyzed so as see the state of evolution of the disease today.
Meanwhile, the secretary explains that today they treat leprosy and Buruli ulcer which is worse than leprosy. The 10-year civil war and the disorganization it brought allowed leprosy to develop again because there was no control. Here the center has an imposing surgery block and specialized surgeons in deep cleaning the wounds to the bones or even amputate a limb when there is no hope of being to save it.
Buruli ulcer was first called
Daloa disease because in Côte d’Ivoire it was initially in Daloa that it began, it makes wounds that deepen and quickly reach bones.
These two diseases, leprosy and burili ulcer, are said to be diseases of the poor, as people who do not have easy access to health care, are afraid to go for consultation for having to spend or simply cannot spend what they do not have, and finally arrive too late at the dispensary as the disease has well progressed, thus requiring amputation. The patients who are no longer in the care area go to a section for a fairly long time of observation and rehabilitation, but it always results in a certain weakness and even softness of the patient. People remain diminished for life.
Then next, fr. Francis takes us to visit the sick. There is a problem that day: there is water interruption because the pump has broken down! In all this complex with two hundred patients whose wounds are be washed and bandages must be changed every day, a breakdown of the drilling becomes fatal. Around the rooms, there are mothers who accompany their children, young people who look either after their father or mother; people lying down, others sitting on the terraces; some play checkerboard or the awale, others just discuss various topics. We pass by shaking hands, smiling or saying a word of encouragement or invitation to patience … Who would not be compassionate before this spectacle where the disease is only a factor of more than a certain misery? And at the same time, there is great dignity in most of these patients. I did not dare to take pictures, it is better to keep their memory in the heart.
A joint team of sisters and father
The community of sisters is composed of three young Africans nuns including Alice a Burkinabe, Veronica a Ghanaian and Félicitée from Benin. They are all nurses, participating in caring for the sick, each in a sector. They equally take care of the pastoral animation of the centre. They breathe dynamism and strength of their youth while expressing the difficulty of their mission.
The sisters and fr. Francis work together in good understanding; these young sisters
pamper their old priest, they are glad to have him. They work together in the spiritual animation of the community, explaining that when one is in the midst of sick people, one must know how to show this face of compassion and attention of Jesus and help each other to grow in faith and patience. I am touched by this testimony that they give together fathers and sisters to
be with these lepers and share their lives…
François du Penhoat, SMA