On 31st January 1924, the British Empire Leprosy Relief Association (BELRA, Lepra's former name) was launched at Mansion House in the City of London.

More than ninety years later, our expertise supports not only people affected by leprosy but also other neglected tropical diseases such as lymphatic filariasis and more common diseases such as tuberculosis.

We have worked in countries around the world including Mozambique, Angola, Brazil and Malawi, improving health systems for people affected by leprosy.

We’re proud of our achievements and have successfully transferred our health services into government health systems ensuring better health care for the long term.

We have developed evidence-based ways of working to deliver real change to people’s lives and to give them a voice.

Our teams on the ground have pioneered many successful models that have been adopted by others including government and international organisations.

Our achievements

  • In 1924 The British Empire Leprosy Relief Association was inaugurated by H.R.H The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) at Mansion House
  • In 1945 we were the first organisation to trial Dapsone as a treatment for leprosy
  • In 1975, we were one of the first associations to use multidrug therapy for leprosy treatment
  • In 1998, we started work in preventing disabilities caused by the long-term effects of leprosy in Mayurbanjh, India
  • In 2000, we introduced health education vans in India, to present messages in a variety of media. Our programmes involve thousands of local volunteers, bringing health services and information to their communities
  • In 2006, we set up health camps in Bangladesh 
  • In 2012, we started self-support groups in Arogya Disha, India, for women with lymphatic filariasis or leprosy
  • In 2013 a new project in Bangladesh began to work with more than 22,000 people affected by physical disability to improve livelihood opportunities by skills training and business grants

Read more about how we help

Our Patron Her Majesty The Queen

Since 1924, patronage by the ruling monarch has been extremely important in gaining respect and recognition for our international charity working overseas.  Her Majesty The Queen’s active and personal interest in our work enhances the relationship with our patron. Find out more about the history of our Royal Patronage here.