Mutemwa was established in the mid-1930s as a leprosy settlement. John Bradburne, an English Franciscan Friar, arrived in Zimbabwe in the 1960’s, eager to help people affected by leprosy.
His life in Mutemwa was far from easy, with his every activity centred on gathering food, clothing and medicine for leprosy patients, often going without these necessities himself.
Father Alfred Patience Tigere, the current administrator for Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre, says that life for leprosy patients prior to the arrival of John Bradburne was bleak. John Bradburne was so devoted to leprosy patients in Zimbabwe, that after visiting the Mutemwa leprosy colony in the 1960’s, he decided he would stay and help in any way he could. Father Alfred said,
“Before he came, it was dreadful. People were removed from their homes and their families. Mutemwa was far away from everything. Some people got leprosy while working in Zimbabwe and could not return home to their own countries. Even now, they remain here and do not know if their relatives are still alive.”
The Memorandum of Understanding between Lepra and John Bradburne Memorial Society is to develop the Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre as a model for best practice in the treatment and care of people affected by leprosy.
To raise the proﬁle of leprosy in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries and to help train health workers from the region in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. We want to support the Care Centre as a model for best practice in southern Africa, improving early detection and rapid treatment of the disease to minimise the risk of long-term disability.
Drawing on our experience from highly successful programmes in India, we are hopeful that we will be able to influence local and national policy in Zimbabwe and wider southern Africa.
Lepra provide the skills, knowledge and expertise to the staff at the Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre. We offer a combined approach of:
Following a visit in June 2019 by Lepra staff, a shipment of specialist sandals was recently received at the centre, providing tailor-made protective footwear for those individuals affected by leprosy.
In the coming months, Lepra will provide training for local cobblers in the manufacture of specialised footwear, drastically decreasing waiting times for protective sandals meaning that the people at Mutemwa can resume normal life and return to work.
Although officially eliminated for more than a decade, there are growing concerns amongst international and medical professionals that leprosy is, in fact, on the rise.
Leprosy work around the world had suffered as a consequence of WHO’s declared ‘elimination’ of the disease in most countries in the early 2000’s. This led to a rapid decline in the amount of medical professionals who had the skills and knowledge to identify and treat this chronic disease, together with a decrease in funding, knowledge and interest in leprosy as a public health concern.