Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info

Benin under your skin


“Benin under your skin” documents the daily life of the doctors and patients in hospitals, clinics, maternity wards, rehabilitation centers, emergency rooms and awareness sessions in communities, affected by Buruli ulcer in Benin. The project is supported by Fundación Anesvad.


Benin, with almost ten million inhabitants and which ranks 165 out of 187 in the Human Development Index (2014 data), is one of the countries most rife with Buruli ulcer in the world.


Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info

Buruli ulcer


Buruli ulcer, known as the “mysterious disease” because its causes are still unknown, is a neglected tropical disease of the same family as leprosy and tuberculosis, which destroys the skin and soft tissues causing large ulcers on arms and legs.


Fundación Anesvad, whose motto is “for the right to health”, decided to answer this urgent call and has been present in the country since 2002.Their support has evolved from prompt attention to those affected by the disease to a more integral strategy which comprises prevention – informing the communities on how to avoid and identify the disease – attention to maternal-infant health, guaranteed access to services in the area of sexual and reproductive health, guaranty of correct nutrition for patients in the different health centers, reinforcement of basic hygiene and sanitation in the most affected areas, etc.


A holistic vision which has translated the promotion of the right to health to a net reduction in the mortality associated with Buruli ulcer and the improvement of certain indicators in the health of mothers and children under the age of five.


These efforts have even shown results in the area of gender equality and the autonomy of women.

Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info

Watch next video ►


Africa's skin. Treatment.

First step: prevention.
Final step: reinsertion


The disease began spreading at an alarming rate towards the end of the 20th Century. In 2004 the WHO decided to intervene by adopting a resolution aimed at increasing surveillance of Buruli ulcer and promoting research. The disease continued to spread geographically, with sufferers now recorded in more than 30 countries across Africa, Asia and the Western Pacific, prompting the WHO to issue a new alert in 2013. A new resolution was adopted, calling member states to step in and put measures in place to improve the health and social welfare of population groups affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases.


After awareness raising comes prevention, treatment (with or without surgery) and rehabilitation, followed by reinsertion at the very end of the disease process. The hospital monitors patients whose treatment has been completed to supervise their progress and ensure there are no new sources of infection. 



Photography and video
Ana Palacios


With the collaboration of
DKV Health Insurance and Anesvad

Benin has more faith in witch doctors than in dermatologists


In Benin, home of voodoo, there's a strong tradition of going to traditional witch doctors and shamans when someone gets sick. But Gbemontin Hospital is getting more visitors year after year, and it's brimming with patients who see Sister Julia Aguiar as some sort of mystical skin guru. Last year, this “dispensary”, as the facility is referred to in the Benin registry, treated more than five thousand people and carried out over 40,000 medical consultations, a reasonably high figure in a country with 10 million inhabitants.

Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info

Watch next video ►


Africa's skin. Treatment.



Photography and video
Ana Palacios


With the collaboration of
DKV Health Insurance and Anesvad

Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info

Africa's mysterious skin


Like snakeskin. That's how your skin looks, with a kind of diamond pattern, when you have a skin graft done in Africa. That's if you're lucky and they have the little stretching machine that makes holes in the skin cut from you so it can then be stretched like a mesh over the wound, like one of those string shopping bags. Otherwise, after the operation when they use strips of your healthy skin to cover the diseased patches, it can look like a bar code has been hand drawn all over your thigh.

Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info

Official voices fighting the disease


Didier Agossadou, who heads a government plan set up specifically for this purpose, the National Programme for Fighting Buruli Ulcer, tells how 80% of cases picked up in the early stage – category  I – can be cured:


“Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics has been really effective, even reducing the net morbidity rate associated with the disease in recent years. If it's diagnosed at the advanced stage (category III) or treatment starts toolate, the result is lengthy hospital stays, which are costly for both patients and the government, plus there is a 25% risk of permanent side effects – shortening of limbs leading to reduced mobility. That's why early detection is so important, to prevent people suffering from these irreversible injuries”.

Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info

Watch next video ►


Africa's skin. Rehabilitation.



Photography and video
Ana Palacios


With the collaboration of
DKV Health Insurance and Anesvad

Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info
Benin under your skin. Photography project @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer info

Erradication


The central aim of government and supporting health partners is to eradicate Neglected Tropical Diseases, especially Buruli ulcer in Benin, where patchymedical care and misinformation mean that the disease is much more widespread. The goal is to eradicate leprosy and control Buruli ulcer by 2020, working in line with WHO targets and the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to “eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases” by 2030.

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