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Wellesley C Bailey was the founder of international charity The Leprosy Mission.[1] In India in the 1860s he witnessed the severe consequences of the disease and vowed to make caring for those with leprosy his life work.

He first came into contact with people affected by leprosy when he was working as a teacher in India. He wrote these words to his friends in Dublin: “I felt, if ever there was a Christ-like work in the world it was to go amongst these poor sufferers…”

There was no cure for leprosy when Wellesley Bailey started his work, but he did what others were not willing to do: treat the person with leprosy with love and kindness.


History Timeline:

  • 1869: Wellesley Bailey began working with people with leprosy in India.
  • 1874: "The Mission to Lepers in India" was formally established.
  • 1892: Mr. and Mrs. Watt of Guelph, Ontario, opened their home to Wellesley Bailey. This initial encounter with The Mission inspired Canadians to come alongside as the first North American supporters.
  • 1950s: Mission surgeon Dr. Paul Brand pioneered surgical solutions to claw hand and foot drop - two disabilities from leprosy which severely handicapped its victims. His wife, Dr. Margaret Brand, poured her energies into caring for patients whose eyes were affected by leprosy.
  • 1962: To take away the stigma of the disease and the tendency to brand people as lepers, The Mission to Lepers changed its name to The Leprosy Mission.
  • 1982: Major breakthrough! Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) was discovered to cure leprosy. Since its introduction some 15 million people have been cured.
  • 2003: About 4 million people live with the permanent effects of leprosy.
  • 2010: The Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council adopted principles and guidelines for “elimination of discrimination against person affected by leprosy and their family members”, protecting those living with leprosy.
  • 2012: Leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, and United Arab Emirates; executives from 13 pharmaceutical companies, NGOs and global health organizations gathered to endorse the "London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases," committing to ending 10 of them, including leprosy, by 2020.

Although Wellesley Bailey had gone to a Church of Ireland church as a child, he'd never particularly taken the Christian faith seriously.That was until he found himself at the start of a voyage that was to take him a long way from home. In Gravesend, fog delayd the departure of his ship bound for Australia. Remembering his childhood girlfriend's request to him before he left to attend church whenever he could, he stopped by one Sunday at Gravesend Parish church. There, he says he had a sense of God's presence in a way he'd never known before and he committed his life to Christ.


The Leprosy Mission Salur

The Leprosy Mission Salur began in 1906 to help Leprosy patients. It was first known as Philadelphia Asylum, then Philadelphia Leprosy Hospital and now Philadelphia Community Hospital. It was established by Rev Paul Schulze of Germany on the 16-acre (65,000 m) land bought from the Rajah of Salur. The Philadelphia Leprosy Hospital, situated in Jeegiram village 3 kilometres from Salur, was opened in 1906 under the auspices of the German Lutheran Church. Rev Schulze became the first Superintendent and served the patients till 1914 and between 1928-1934. He left the country along with all the German missionaries due to World War 1. He was awarded the Kaiser-I-hind award by the Indian Government for his work in the Leprosy field. There were many Honorary Superintendents between 1939 and 1965. There was big funding problem which resulted in deterioration of the condition.

Dr. R.H.Thangaraj and Mrs. Thangaraj, Dr. V.P.Das and Dr.J.F.Neudoerffer together revived the hospital from 1965 and put it on progressive path. A Reconstructive Surgery Hospital, staff quarters and an artificial limb center were constructed in 1970. Local funds were raised and both state and central government funds were provided. By 1973, they recognized Salur hospital for training programmes for medical officers, medical supervisors, paramedical workers and physiotherapy technicians. Salur became one of the major training institutions and grew into one of the best Leprosy centers in India. The number of staff increased from 5 in 1965 to about 100 in 1977. Dr.R.H.Thangaraj had to leave Salur to become the Leprosy mission secretary for South Asia.

Dr.Alexander Thomas (1978–1989), Dr. Thangaraj (1989–1992), Dr. G.Rajan Babu (1992–1995), Dr. B.P. Ravi Kumar (1995–2004), Dr. B. Narender Rao (2004- 2010) and Dr.Jay Prasad Palla (2011 onwards) were appointed as Superintendents and they continued and consolidated the earlier efforts and expanded into specific areas of medical care and related services. In April 1979 an ophthalmic department was opened and funded by the Christoffel Blinden Mission and a complete ophthalmic unit was completed in December 1981. The hospital celebrated its platinum jubilee in 1982. A new training unit with all facilities was built. Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) was introduced in the treatment of leprosy in 1983. The women's hostel was constructed in 1987. The artificial limb center was shifted from Jeegiram to Salur in 1998. Personnel from Uzbekistan were trained in leprosy at Salur. New administrative block was constructed in 1999 and diagnostic scanning services are started functioning. A new renovated OPD extension block was opened in 2008 with integrated Hospital Management system (HMS) which is totally computerised. As Leprosy is under control and has been declared as eradicated in India, efforts have recently diversified to other medical services. Comprehensive Diabetic clinics, orthopedics, Physiotherapy and obstetrics & gynecology departments are servicing the people.

Our Work In Action

World Leprosy Day 2015

On World Leprosy Day 2015

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