The Fight to End Leprosy

Consider how you can join the effort to end leprosy once and for all.


Every 2 minutes of
every day, someone,
somewhere, is diagnosed 
with leprosy.

This year 50,000 children will be told: “you have leprosy.”

Over the past 20 years, between 12 and 15 million people contracted leprosy but remain untreated. Without healthcare they are condemned to lives of disability, isolation and suffering.

The Mission To End Leprosy has a plan to eradicate this cruel disease and stop this needless suffering.

You can be a part of ending the suffering.

Imagine being able to say: 

“I helped to eradicate the
world’s oldest disease.”

A Message from the C.E.O.

Twenty years ago I had never met anyone who had leprosy. Like many people, in my mind, leprosy was a Biblical disease.... Then I met Dhukia.

This is Dhukia





• Basic human rights
• Economic well being
• Access to education
• Inclusion in society
•Gender equity


The Missing Millions: 

More than 600,000 people per year go undetected.  Over a 20-year period this equates to 12 million people. They remain a source of infection and transmission. They face a future of needless disability. 

Key to breaking transmission:

We must aggressively track and treat all people who have leprosy. Leprosy can be cured with a multi-drug therapy. Left untreated, the patient remains contagious. 


The Mission to End Leprosy:
strategically positioned to lead eradication

Operating from Ireland since 1874, we have a global track record and reputation as compassionate and effective leaders of change. 

Our experience, evidence-based learning and faith prepares us to go forward. Significant engagement of partners and experts have led to our focus on ending leprosy.

Here is a brief history of our journey:


The Leprosy Mission grew to an international network spanning some 50 countries. The network continues to be coordinated by a secretariat in London.

In 2011, the Leprosy Mission Ireland determined that its goal of eradication was better facilitated as an independent organization.  Since then it has built an agile global network that can deliver on the ultimate objective of the eradication of leprosy.

Recognising that the UN Millennium Development Goals Project was scheduled to end in 2015, the board adopted an interim strategy for 2012-15 entitled “gearing up for a world beyond 2015.” The priority was “to work at all levels of society to effect sustainable transformation with and on behalf of people and communities affected by leprosy.” A key feature of the strategy was to work in cooperation with partners and donors. This became the birthing ground of the organisation’s Global Advocacy Plan, formulated in 2013.

The organisation formulated a plan and programme to influence policy and practice at WHO. The board recognised the challenges of the David and Goliath situation, but wholeheartedly endorsed the programme. We were delighted to see that all of our objectives were reflected in WHO’s 2016-20 leprosy strategy.

Jointly funded by Effect:Hope and The Leprosy Mission Ireland, theory of change consultations were held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The two funding partners listened carefully to representatives of implementing (field) partners from across Asia and Africa. The lessons learned from these consultations influenced the post-2015 strategy. These discussions brought a new depth of understanding to our work, making it easier to design, develop and maximise the impact of our programmes.

We called and hosted a conference in Dublin to critically explore WHO definitions, policies and practices and to move towards a consensus on WHO’s 1991 commitment to eliminate leprosy. 

The conference was attended by academics, practicioners, heads of Non Governmental Agencies and members of WHO committees. The conference mandated The Leprosy Mission Ireland as an advocate for change in WHO policy. Using our networking and influencing skills, we subsequently worked to have the key output of that conference reflected in global policy.

In Houston, Texas, we participated in a symposium funded by Effect:Hope. Scientists from all continents gathered to clarify the current state of knowledge of Mycobacterium leprae and to identify and address gaps in our understanding of transmission. This has been instrumental in giving a global voice to our shared agenda on scientific research into transmission and eradication.

Arising from the Theory of Change discussions in Ethiopia, a new strategy was developed and focused on the following 4 key areas: 
  1: advocacy: ensuring those with power play their part
  2: health systems: supporting and strengthening local systems 
  3: communities: equipping and strengthening communities to be leaders of change
  4: research: asking important questions to move towards eradication of leprosy.

R2STOP, Research to Stop Transmission of leprosy and neglected tropical diseases was launched. This scientific research initiative, jointly funded by Effect:Hope and The Leprosy Mission Ireland, with an expected budget of $1 million per annum launched. In 2016, the first call for proposals saw just over $1 million awarded across 6 research projects all focused on understanding and breaking the transmission of leprosy.

We called and hosted a conference in Dublin, attended by heads of government health departments, programme managers and people affected by leprosy from across Africa, Asia and Latin America. One of the main purposes of the conference was to explore opportunities offered by the new WHO Leprosy Strategy 2016 - 2020 to address the “missing millions.” These “missing millions” are the people affected by leprosy and its consequences but who are not being effectively diagnosed, treated or supported. The Leprosy Mission Ireland received a clear mandate to continue this work as global advocates.

Reflecting on the new WHO Strategy, we noted that while we welcome the strategy and its focus on zero disease, zero disability, zero transmission and zero discrimination, we do not believe that it will deliver as it fails to address the core underlying structural and procedural issues. This drove us back to consider “what would it take to eradicate leprosy?" In answering that question we  formulated the current programme.

While retaining the legal names of The Leprosy Mission Ireland and The Leprosy Mission International, the board adopted the trading name “The Mission To End Leprosy.” The Mission to End Leprosy committed to registering in USA, UK and India. The adoption of this name clearly confirms the board’s commitment to eradication.

Throughout 2017 we revisited our burning question: “What would it take to eradicate leprosy?” After extensive discussions, our board restated its commitment to eradicate the disease, and a period of research and reflection informs the design of a model for the eradication of leprosy. 



“Eliminating leprosy is the only work I have not been able to complete in my lifetime.”

 ~ Mahatma Ghandi ~