The new collaboration will focus on projects and academic research where Lepra and the University share common interests, providing opportunities for both organisations to advance the fields of public and global health.
The aim of the Memorandum of Understanding is to address current and pressing issues such as human rights and advocacy, medical and para-medical science, social science as well as human science.
Professor David O’Mahony, the University of Essex’s Dean of Partnerships (Research), said: “The University of Essex is really excited to be launching a new partnership with Lepra. Together we will be able to work and cooperate on the important work that Lepra delivers across the world in the combat against leprosy. There are wide range of opportunities for our respective organisations and for our researchers and students – from undergraduates to PhD students – to benefit from this partnership and we look forward to working together.”
Jimmy Innes, Lepra CEO, added: “I’m delighted that we are launching this new partnership between Lepra and the University of Essex. We both share the same physical home in Colchester, and we both come with rich and diverse histories that offer us great complementarity. For Lepra, we relish the chance to work with the university’s students and staff, to help engage in our work addressing leprosy in India and Bangladesh, and in pursuit of a world that is free from prejudice and disability due to leprosy.”
Leprosy is an infectious disease, affecting a person’s peripheral nerves, often leaving them with disabilities including the inability to walk, use their hands or see. Leprosy is curable with a course of multi-drug therapy, that is provided free of charge. Due to fear and lack of knowledge, there are over three million people across the world living with undiagnosed leprosy and every day the disease causes more damage to their health, livelihood, and future.
Last year, despite the global pandemic and concurrent lockdowns, Lepra directly reached more than 290,000 people through diagnosis, treatment and holistic care. More than 225,000 people were further engaged in their home communities through health education and events to raise awareness of leprosy and other neglected diseases, to reduce transmission and promote wellbeing.
By delivering this partnership, Lepra and the University of Essex plan to explore and create innovative joint projects which will have a long-lasting impact for people affected by leprosy.