I can't believe I just typed that subject line.
This is a long post. So here is some info if you don't want to read my rambling. They can be knit or crochet.
I never knew this was a thing. Apparently worldwide there are still many people suffering from leprosy. (From Wikipedia - Although the forced quarantine or segregation of patients is unnecessary in places where adequate treatments are available, many leper colonies still remain around the world in countries such as India (where there are still more than 1,000 leper colonies), China, Romania, Egypt, Nepal, Somalia, Liberia, Vietnam, and Japan.)
Ironically, I became aware that there are US charities knitting and crocheting bandages for leprosy sufferers via a quilting blog. I still knit, but I have a new obsession in quilting, so I haven't been around KH much lately.
My quilting blogger posted about knitting leprosy bandages and I was horrified to find out that this disease is still a problem in many countries. While effective medications to treat the disease exist, and may be available through the World Health Organization for no cost, that still is not enough to eradicate this terrible disease. Sufferers in the above-named countries are isolated and shunned, and may not have access to medications needed for a cure (12 months of multi-drug therapy is required), or they may not be educated enough to take the medications as needed even if they have them.
I have information about a charity which accepts handmade bandages to distribute in Vietnam. There may be other organizations for other countries. One thing I saw is that the climate of the country may influence the instructions - the link I am posting is for Vietnam.
I checked on Snopes.com and did not find any evidence that this is a hoax.
So why would they want handmade bandages? Apparently, they want to use these bandages over and over and over again by boiling them to sterilize them. Couldn't they be made by machine, though, even if they must be knitted from cotton? That's what I asked myself and I do not know the answer. It seems that bandages knitted or crocheted for this group genuinely do get used, though.
There are so many things "out there in the world" that make me sad. I am a lucky, lucky person compared to most people in the world. I never go hungry (unless dieting), I am never cold without the ability to get warm, I never need medicine and can't get it, and I have leisure time to devote to pursuits once deemed necessary work for women.
This reminds me of a case I am treating at work right now (I'm a vet). I have a patient that is a little dog who was attacked by a big dog and has some severe wounds to his leg. He is coming in for bandage changes every 2 days (and has been for a couple of weeks) because the bones in his foot are exposed. Once we have enough healing, he is going to have skin grafts to cover the rest of the wound, and he will likely do pretty well.
He gets pain medication to help with the discomfort of having his bandages changed. I use disposable bandage material and throw it away every 2 days. He had antibiotics to help with the infection that was initially present. I have a variety of wound dressings available to help make the wounds heal. We are talking about a DOG here. As a vet of course I realize that a lot of my patients here in Southern California get better medical care than not only worldwide human patients, but also US human patients in some cases.
For some reason, this story has really stabbed me in the heart. The more I read on the website, the more I tear up, and the thought of these people having a sore, infected wound but nothing clean to cover it with, just makes me so, so, so sad.
There are so many injustices in the world that we cannot correct. But I for one am about to get some crochet cotton and keep one of these projects with me at all times. I want to overwhelm this charity group with bandages and the first people I thought of where you guys at Knitting Help. I want to get the message like we did for those penguin sweaters: "We do not need any more bandages, please stop sending them."
And then I want to find a charity sending them to India and find out the requirements for their construction and start sending them there.
Won't you help me? This is the simplest knitting but it could be the best feeling you ever got completing a project. If anyone wants to help but doesn't want to get too involved, please message me. I would be MORE than happy to accumulate and send bandages along to the appropriate place.
PS, I know that "leprosy" is considered an offensive term, but I think that it is in use among charities because people understand what that means. Generally you would want to call leprosy "Hansen's Disease."