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Gandhiji Prem Nivas

A Leprosy Center Established by Mother Teresa

Photographer: Piyal Adhikary

 

Leprosy is one of the oldest infectious diseases known to man. It primarily affects the skin, nerves, eyes and upper respiratory tract, but the disease is curable and treatment in its early stages can prevent disability, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

Outside the city of Titagarh, in the Indian state of West Bengal, Mother Teresa in 1958 established the Gandhiji Prem Nivas Leprosy Center. Run by her Missionaries of Charity, the center was built for an existing community of people with leprosy. Now, more than 1,000 people – those affected and their families – live and work on the premises.

 

Residents who have recovered from the disease work as weavers at the center and produce the blue and white sarees worn by Charity nuns. Children of patients are provided with free education at the center, which also offers free food, basic health care and psychological treatment to its residents.

 

The facility is run with the help of donations and the support of the WHO, which in April 2016 launched the Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2020, aimed at the worldwide elimination of the disease.

 

Gandhiji Prem Nivas is taking part in the WHO program alongside other hospitals in India. It provides treatments recommended by the WHO not only to patients residing at the center, but also to other leprosy-affected people needing medical attention.