British Ambassador to Nepal opens Guernsey-funded guest house for visiting researchers and medics to pioneering leprosy hospital

The British Ambassador to Nepal, Richard Morris, has officially opened the guest house at The Leprosy Mission’s flagship Anandaban Hospital in Nepal, funded by Guernsey Overseas Aid & Development Commission.

The five-room facility is used by visiting researchers, scientists, trainers, doctors, nurses and surgeons to Anandaban Hospital and its on-site mycobacterial laboratory. The laboratory is a world-class research centre partnering with the best researchers in the field, including those at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in a bid to finally eradicate leprosy.

It replaces the previous guest house which was destroyed in the earthquakes of 2015 which killed 9,000 people and destroyed or damaged a million homes in Nepal.

Ambassador Morris told crowds at the ceremony at Anandaban Hospital on Tuesday: “It has been a great privilege to visit Anandaban again and see the big changes in the last two years with new construction. 

“The new guest house will provide safe and better accommodation to students and other visitors. The staff at Anandaban Hospital are doing a great job in serving neglected people with leprosy and it is good to know that this hospital is a centre of excellent for leprosy patients in Nepal.” 

Guernsey has a long-standing special relationship with Anandaban Hospital in Nepal which is The Leprosy Mission’s flagship hospital, leading the fight against leprosy; an entirely curable disease since 1982 but one which is perpetuated by the stigma and ignorance surrounding it.

The devastating earthquakes of 2015 saw staff at Anandaban Hospital reach out to 18,000 earthquake victims with emergency medical care, food and shelter.

Among other buildings and care provided at Anandaban Hospital, Guernsey Overseas Aid & Development Commission previously funded a women’s ward which was constructed in 2014 and was one of the few hospital buildings to withstand the earthquakes unscathed. It was used to above capacity in the months following the disaster.

Since the earthquakes patient numbers at the hospital have doubled to 40,000 a year, despite the number of staff remaining the same. 

Country leader for The Leprosy Mission Nepal, Shovakhar Kandel, who was coincidentally visiting Leprosy Mission supporters in the Channel Islands at the time of the first earthquake on 25 April 2015, said Anandaban remains a hospital under great pressure: 

“We are incredibly grateful to the people of Guernsey for their amazing support and prayers for Anandaban Hospital,” he said.

“There was so much damage to the hospital following the earthquakes but incredibly the new women’s ward stood strong and was a real God-send in the months that followed. And now we have an earthquake-resistant designed guest house for the many scientists and medical professionals visiting Anandaban Hospital.

“Most visitors to the guest house at Anandaban will pay for their stay providing much-needed income for the hospital.

“While we are under great pressure, we are thankful for the increased number of patients as it means, following the earthquakes and the increased profile of Anandaban Hospital, people are less frightened of leprosy and are willing to come here for treatment which has to be a good thing. Nobody is turned away.” 

The Leprosy Mission’s current Heal Nepal campaign will find, cure and heal people with leprosy in a bid to rid Nepal from the ancient disease. This means reaching people with leprosy through outreach teams before they develop permanent disabilities or caring for them for months at Anandaban Hospital while their wounds heal and they undergo life-changing surgery.