India has the world’s second largest population: more than 1.3 billion people. As the seventh largest country in the world it is known for its diversity of landscape, wildlife and people groups.
Thanks to economic growth, more than 90 million people in India escaped extreme poverty between 1995 and 2015. But despite this, there are still many people struggling: one in five people in India lives on less than US$1.90 per day.
In 2021, India had 54 per cent of all new cases of leprosy diagnosed worldwide, 75,394 in total. 4,107 of these new cases were in children. There are 1.3 doctors per 1,000 people compared to 2.87 per 1,000 people in the UK.
Having worked in India for for than 145 years, we currently support 16 projects there, working in partnership with The Leprosy Mission Trust India. These include healthcare, livelihood support, community empowerment, advocacy and research and training.
In 2021 India experienced a devastating second wave of Covid-19, which had a severe impact on people affected by leprosy and their families. Despite staff shortages and a lack of resources, hospitals continued to do all they could to care for people affected by leprosy.
We support four hospitals in India, one in Chhattisgarh, one in Bihar and two in West Bengal. They provide high quality treatment for people affected by leprosy and also serve other people in their local regions. We also support a snehalaya, also known as a mercy home, providing care for elderly people affected by leprosy who have nowhere else to go. During the pandemic, Chandkhuri hospital in Chhattisgarh has also been a designated Covid-19 treatment centre.
One of our recent innovations in healthcare includes investment in new ways of producing custom footwear for people affected by leprosy, including use of 3D printing technology.
Providing livelihood opportunities for people affected by leprosy and their family members means they can lift themselves out of poverty. We support two Vocational Training Centres that provide training opportunities so that people affected by leprosy can pursue jobs in fields such as mechanics, welding, nursing and computing.
We also support community projects that enable people affected by leprosy to earn a living and contribute to society in a way that improves wellbeing and breaks down the barriers of stigma.
Working with people affected by leprosy and their local communities, we empower them to advocate for their rights, including campaigning for discriminatory laws at both a national, state and district level to be repealed. Awareness and education campaigns are regularly held in the areas we work to address the discrimination and stigma surrounding leprosy.
We support The Leprosy Mission Trust India as the team work to find new techniques and ways to defeat leprosy, generating evidence both nationally and internationally. Research includes operational research to ensure our programmes are working effectively – including working with existing health systems, research looking into transmission of leprosy, disability management and reducing stigma.
The Stanley Browne Research Laboratory in New Delhi is at the forefront of global leprosy research.
The Leprosy Mission Trust India is recognised as a global centre of excellence for leprosy and we are working to share this expertise globally, through a mixture of face-to-face and online learning.