As fans of Back to the Future II celebrate reaching the date Marty McFly arrived in “the future”, we look back through our archives to 1985, the year the film was released.

Multi-drug therapy (MDT) to cure leprosy was introduced at the Kuvula Leprosy Centre in Uganda. Due to the reduction in treatment time as a result of the MDT, children returned home with no disabilities and no physical sign of the disease.

Dr Patricia Rose reported from Guyana:
“The World Health Organization multiple drug therapy continues to be a major success with both patients and staff… It still gives us all a tremendous thrill to be able to assure our patients that they only require six months’ treatment.”

Mr Chris Bonington, Lepra’s President, announced at our AGM in 1985:
“We are proud and privileged to be taking part in what will be the first trial in Africa of a new generation of leprosy vaccines”

This research project in Malawi was launched in conjunction with the World Health Organization and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The trial was in the Karonga district of Northern Malawi, where we had operated an Evaluation Project since 1979.

Mr Timothy fftyche, then a consultant at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, led a team of three surgeons (part-funded by Lepra) to South Korea where they spent two weeks operating on people affected by leprosy who were in danger of losing their sight.

This was the third year of our Edinburgh to St Andrews bike ride, with 600 cyclists.

In October 1085, Dr Nicholas Chitimba (Malawi) signed an airmail letter for our Christmas appeal. Thirty years ago, this was a new approach!

In 1985, 5.2 million people were newly diagnosed and started treatment for leprosy. Last year, this number had reduced to less than 214,000. Elimination is not yet achieved in all parts of the world, though. Bangladesh and India still carry 60% of the world’s leprosy burden.