We recently caught up with our new Chief Executive, Geoff Prescott, where he was kind enough to share with us a little bit about himself and what he hopes to bring to Lepra.

Where did your career start and what will you bring to our organisation? 

I began my career as a nurse, after completing a BA in International Relations and an MA in Health Finance and Health Planning. I then went on to study post graduate qualifications in Tropical Health and Nursing, and Parasitology.

I have a history of working with leprosy as well as other neglected tropical diseases. In addition, my career in humanitarian aid has taken me all over the world to work and live. From this, I have grown a hard-wired international outlook embodying equity, justice and health. 

What was it like to work with people with leprosy?

I worked with leprosy when working at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London and it felt like any other work, and so it should. Prior to that, I had worked on an HIV and infectious diseases ward in London during the 80s and so was always sensitive to inequalities, prejudice and injustice in health. 

Do you think the prejudice attached to leprosy has shifted over time?

Prejudice has been confronted and education implemented. Yet I am unsure how far prejudice has fundamentally changed. There seems to be a climate of “political correctness” and “offence-taking” that leads to less overt prejudice and more skilled lip-service. To what extent this is a global phenomenon is a matter of conjecture. One of the great things about Lepra is that we are trying to confront and educate when it comes to prejudice. No one should suffer discrimination because of the way they are born or a disease or circumstance over which they do not control.

What brings you to our organisation?

Lepra’s history of treating leprosy patients and innovation is something special. There are very few Non-Government Organisations with such a rich history, knowledge and credibility. Lepra’s work linking health, advocacy and development with a holistic focus also is a good fit.

Joining Lepra is completing a circle – returning to infectious diseases and my experience at the Hospital for Tropical diseases in London and in the field for MSF, after many years of working in the charity sector.

What are your hopes for Lepra?

To thrive and succeed! Lepra will continue to be a global catalyst for the treatment of leprosy achieving a reduction in disability, transmission and prejudice.