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AAA24 Charity Partner:”British Asian community holds the power and influence to end leprosy for good’

Author: AAA team

Ayesha is 70 and lives in a leprosy community in Bihar. She is disabled by leprosy, and struggles to balance because she has no toes. The loss of feeling in Ayesha’s feet means she often gets cuts and infection. Her husband and in-laws threw her out when they found out she had the disease. The Leprosy has walked with Ayesha through trauma, treatment and rehabilitation.

The Leprosy Mission 1

The Leprosy Mission is delighted to be named the chosen partner for the Asian Achievers Awards in 2024.

Celebrating Asian excellence across politics, business and civil society, the charity says the British Asian community holds the power and influence to help end leprosy for good.

Louise Timmins, Head of Asian Partnerships, says leprosy is a curable disease that shouldn’t exist in the 21st Century. It is poverty, poor healthcare, and age-old stigma that means it continues to blight more than a million lives in India today.

Louise, who has worked for The Leprosy Mission since 2004, said: “It really is such a privilege to be part of the Asian Achievers Awards.

“I’m so looking forward to sharing the stories of people affected by leprosy in India, and explaining how we can be the generation to end this disease. I hope that my life’s work will inspire people to join me to support some of the most marginalised people on earth.

“Together we can halt the power of leprosy for the next generation. I don’t want to see any more children with preventable disability, or people rejected by their communities.”

India is home to half of the world’s leprosy cases and is where The Leprosy Mission’s work began back in 1874. At the time, there was little that could be done for people with leprosy. There was no cure and people were exiled from their families and communities as soon as their bodies became disabled by the disease. For the early part of the charity’s lifechanging years, the work was limited to showing care and compassion to people who had been outcast.

The Leprosy Mission’s work today is extensive and includes diagnosis, cure and rehabilitation, as well as providing water, sanitation, housing, education and sustainable livelihood opportunities. Pioneering research is also a core activity. However, caring for those who have been mistreated because of leprosy remains at the very heart of the Mission. There are still over 750 leprosy colonies in India.

The Leprosy Mission is excited that great strides can be made to stamp out prejudice surrounding leprosy in India through its partnership with the Asian Achievers Awards. Established in 2000 and held annually since then, the Awards take place on 20 September 2024.

Commercial Director Liji George, said: “The Asian Achievers Awards is delighted to have The Leprosy Mission as its chosen charity partner for 2024. Since our inception, we’ve raised more than £5m for charitable causes and look forward to continuing this journey to support The Leprosy Mission’s important work in India. Through the Awards, we hope to share The Leprosy Mission’s transformative work in India with a wider audience to ensure support reaches those most in need.”


The Leprosy Mission in Bihar

Head of Asian Partnerships at The Leprosy Mission, Louise Timmins, spends time with leprosy patient Doli Das at Premananda Hospital in Kolkata, India, earlier this year.

For interview opportunities please contact:
Charlotte Walker
The Leprosy Mission England and Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
Peterborough PE2 5GZ
Mob: 07940 721760

About The Leprosy Mission England and Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man:

The Leprosy Mission is an international Christian development organisation striving to defeat leprosy and transform lives. It serves people affected by leprosy, other neglected tropical diseases, and disability.

The England and Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man office currently focuses its work in 10 countries where leprosy remains both a chronic disease and a social challenge. These are: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. Interventions are wide-ranging and holistic, not just addressing the disease itself but also ensuring social inclusion and quality of life. As well as medical work, areas of activity include housing, water, sanitation, education, employment, advocacy, and empowerment.

About leprosy

  • Leprosy is a mildly infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae (a relative of the tuberculosis bacterium or ‘TB’ germ). It can stay in the body for up to 30 years without showing symptoms.
  • Leprosy causes nerve damage and, if left untreated, can lead to a loss of sensation and movement around the eyes, hands and feet. This can lead to disability and the amputation of limbs. Leprosy also damages nerves in the face causing problems with blinking, eventually leading to blindness.
  • Leprosy is not hereditary. An estimated 95% of people, if exposed, would never develop leprosy due to having normal, healthy immunity.
  • It is most common in places of poverty where overcrowding and poor nutrition, housing and sanitation allow people to become more susceptible to leprosy infection. At highest risk are those in households living in long-term, close contact with an untreated member(s) having leprosy. This is why early diagnosis and screening contacts is important.
  • The last case of indigenous leprosy in the UK was diagnosed in 1798; and although it is no longer contracted in this country, around 12 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year.
  • Leprosy is curable with Multidrug therapy (MDT), a combination of three antibiotics taken for 6-12 months.
  • Whether before, during or after treatment – built-up leprosy bacterial residues can make patients vulnerable to unpredictable and long inflammatory episodes called leprosy reactions – which can lead to nerve damage and disability development even years after technical cure. Besides limiting transmission, this is why early diagnosis is so important.
  • Lack of education, however, means that many people affected by leprosy are still stigmatised, even after they have been cured, especially if the disease has caused disability.
  • There is evidence today to suggest that for every person cured of leprosy today, there are 19 ‘hidden’ cases that need to be found and treated.