Victoria Hislop is an author best known for her best-selling novel The Island.
"As the charity’s ambassador I am delighted to be asked to open this edition of Lepra News at the time of a defining anniversary and a further big push to beat leprosy and the effects of leprosy.
My own experience of visiting India to see the work of Lepra showed me the importance of the charity’s work to educate and to treat those who suffer from this disease. I met hundreds of people whose lives had been transformed, through education and treatment.
Through this I personally understand the three key areas of focus: detection and diagnosis, overcoming prejudice and dealing with the disability that has often set in before people can get help.
Every person I met who had been affected was unique. I saw how each person is looked after as an individual with different needs and circumstances, whether it’s multi-drug therapy, providing a pair of specially designed made-to-measure sandals, a community loan to earn a living, a sight-saving operation or teaching how to care for their hands and feet. The whole person is cared for in a practical and, perhaps most importantly, dignified way.
Every year Lepra directly helps over 250,000 people and provides community health education to over two million. Reaching out is fundamental to encouraging understanding and for giving confidence to individuals to speak of
leprosy, to seek help, to know they can be cured before disability sets in, and to be treated without prejudice in the community and in law.
Lepra doesn’t of course work in isolation and one of the huge strengths is the strong relationships with local health networks that allow the charity to pass on and share expertise and knowledge. This is the legacy the charity leaves on the ground to sustain the services and support those affected. If 2.4 million people were reached last year, imagine how many lives Lepra has touched in 90 years.
I am very proud to be Lepra’s ambassador and hope that their work to transform lives continues to go from strength to strength."