We opened our first referral centres when people with leprosy were not ‘allowed’ into hospitals. Even if they managed to get in, they rarely received treatment either because of stigma surrounding the disease or because the doctors did not specialise in leprosy.

In many areas where we work there are no health facilities providing services to manage neglected diseases like leprosy and lymphatic filariasis, and the disabilities they can cause.

Our referral centres fill gaps in government health services and provide the specialist treatment that is often unavailable elsewhere.

Today, we run 29 referral centres in India and Bangladesh providing testing, treatment, disability care and counselling to people affected by diseases and their families. Our referral centres in Bangladesh are the first of their kind and have also been supported by the Prime Minister.

Treating disability

To treat disability the centre provides physiotherapy and ulcer care, as well as reconstructive surgery for the correction of leprosy related disabilities.

Centres also employ their own shoemaker, manufacturing and supplying protective shoes to people with disabilities.

Our referral centres are run in partnership with state and national health systems and are often located within government health centres and hospitals. This enables us to build their skills in managing the centres and providing the services.

The ultimate aim is to hand them over to governments in the future to ensure their sustainability.