On the 28th of January, Lepra was honoured to host an event in the House of Lords to commemorate World Leprosy Day and launch its ‘New Faces of Leprosy’ exhibition.
World Leprosy Day is celebrated annually on the last Sunday of January. It serves as a celebration of those affected by leprosy; their resilience, determination and strength in battling such a misunderstood and prejudiced disease.
As global leprosy figures rise, particularly in Africa and India, so does the need for greater awareness of leprosy and its impacts on individuals, communities and government infrastructure. Our work in India is vital, with almost 60% of the world’s leprosy burden stemming from India. Over 3 million people are living with undiagnosed leprosy.
Over half of those diagnosed with leprosy suffer from severe depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. It is a serious, global health concern and we are on the front line trying to fight it.
Geoff Prescott, Chief Executive of Lepra said, “Lepra, as a secular, evidence-based organisation is open to all. We do not discriminate based on faith, creed, or race and we try to encourage others to follow this path.
Our House of Lords event demonstrates a broad, multi-faith desire to help some of the most vulnerable people in society; those affected by leprosy.”
Professor Diana Lockwood, England’s only leprologist, spoke at length about her brand new project ‘New Faces of Leprosy’. The project was showcased at the event, showing the stories and faces of the everyday people that have battled leprosy. Engineers, teachers, lab technicians, children; all have beaten leprosy and returned to their normal lives.
The evening also highlighted our ongoing Mental Motivators project in Bangladesh. Mental Motivators act as counsellors for those seeking support after a leprosy diagnosis or for those too frightened to seek help. It is a vital service and we have trained more than 30 people to act in this capacity.
Lepra are actively seeking more funding to expand this project into India as mental health issues rapidly become a more pressing, urgent matter globally. The Duke of Gloucester reiterated the royal families continued support of Lepra and our work, highlighting how important is that the public support our work.