‘Thanks to UK aid we do have a real hope of ending leprosy in Nepal’

The Leprosy Mission today announced its Heal Nepal campaign had raised a record breaking £4.15 million for its work transforming the lives of people affected by leprosy in Nepal.

Thanks to the generosity of the British public, the campaign raised £2,169,311 in donations, the first £2million of which was matched pound for pound by the UK government, making it the most successful campaign in the charity’s 145-year history.

Peter Waddup, National Director of The Leprosy Mission, said: “The unprecedented amount raised by the public in response to The Leprosy Mission’s Heal Nepal appeal from 27 January to 27 April offers real hope of ending leprosy in Nepal. 

“The money will train and fund outreach workers to go into remote communities to find and cure leprosy before the ancient disease causes people to develop life-long disabilities including blindness.”

An effective cure for leprosy has been available since 1982 in the form of multidrug therapy. But because of stigma and lack of health services there are six million people globally needlessly living today with leprosy-caused stigma and disability. This is more than the population of Scotland.

Peter said: “Young people like Santosh in Nepal have had to suffer from severe disability caused by leprosy and, as a result, have great concern for their future survival. And this is because of a mildly-infectious disease that is curable with a combination of three antibiotics.

“Our Heal Nepal campaign has raised a total of £4,154,781 including match funding from the government, taking our fundraising to a whole new level. There is no question that the unprecedented generosity shown by our supporters, new and old, was fuelled by the government matching their donations. 

“And only because of the UK government do we now have a real hope of ending leprosy in Nepal as we will be able to train outreach workers to go into remote communities in Nepal to find and cure people of leprosy. This will not only enable leprosy to be diagnosed and treated early, preventing disability, but for those already disabled like Santosh, will provide the vital surgery and prosthetics needed to restore futures.”

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) most recent statistics reveal there were 210,671 new cases of leprosy treated in 2017. However, leprosy organisations know there are millions of cases of leprosy undetected today – people living in poor communities with no access to health services or pushed to the very fringes of society because of ancient beliefs that they are somehow ‘cursed’.

Peter said: “We should be proud of the role UK Aid Match plays in ensuring the UK is a key global player and tackling the world’s most pressing issues including disease, climate change and humanitarian disasters.

International Development Minister, Andrew Murrison MP, said: “The Leprosy Mission is making a significant and lasting difference to people’s lives by giving them access to treatments and care to help end the suffering and disability caused by leprosy. 

“I am delighted the UK government has aid matched the Leprosy Mission’s Heal Nepal appeal, helping to raise a total of £4.15 million. This will give people living with leprosy in Nepal’s poorest communities the chance of a future free of this devastating disease.”