Leprosy is an infectious skin disease affecting more than 200,000 people around the world every year. Indonesia is the country with the third highest number of people with leprosy (after India and Brazil). It is curable with multidrug therapy but, if poorly managed, can result in permanent lifelong disabilities that cause significant discomfort, disfigurement, and loss of quality of life. Worldwide, around 4 million people are living with some form of disability as a result of leprosy.
Leprosy and its complications take a severe toll on a person’s mental and social well-being. People with leprosy, and their family members, are often heavily stigmatised as a result of the misconceptions that surround the disease. This stigma and the associated discrimination limit people’s opportunities to participate in education, employment, and society. Leprosy affects poor and vulnerable societies that live in remote and underserved areas.
We work with community partners in Sumba, Indonesia, and have set up a Leprosy Research Advisory Board. Artist Yoppy Pieter worked with community members to document ‘The Invisible Burden of Leprosy’ in a photographic exhibition that can also be visited online.