HOPES of ending leprosy in Mozambique have been boosted by a £4.4-million response to the Leprosy Mission’s Unconditional Appeal. Described by the charity’s chief executive, Peter Waddup, as “an outpouring of generosity”, this is the most successful appeal in its 147-year-old history.
Half of the funds came from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office as part of its UK Aid Match scheme, which matched all donations pound for pound (News, 22 January).
The appeal sought to raise awareness of the disease, change attitudes, and improve access to treatment. An antibiotic to cure leprosy has been available since the 1980s, but the disease persists through stigma, fear of it, and lack of healthcare.
Community hubs, named Hubs of Hope, will now be constructed across Northern Mozambique, where Covid-19 has added to the existing problems of escalating violence and the devastating effects of climate change, hunger, and homelessness.
The hubs are powered by solar panels, and Mr Waddup described the pilot hubs as already “the beating hearts in rural communities”. They will also be centres of community development. Volunteers, to be called Leprosy Changemakers, are being trained to recognise the early signs of the condition. Many have themselves been affected by leprosy, or are respected as traditional healers or faith leaders.
Mr Waddup said that the money would bring prosperity to Mozambique for years to come. He described the hubs as “literally and metaphorically a light in the darkness, a place where there is connection, healing, friendship, support, and opportunity.
“At a time when Covid has pushed more than 100 million people globally into extreme poverty, this outpouring of generosity shows the power of UK Aid and why it is needed more than ever,” he said.
“I am in complete awe of my amazing colleagues in Mozambique for making this vision a reality in a region where there is intense violence. Their compassion and generosity in continuing to serve people with leprosy each day, despite risking their own lives, is deeply humbling.”