Leprosy impacts impoverished communities in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), with over 200,000 new cases recorded annually worldwide. This infectious disease is caused by Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis and primarily affects the skin and peripheral nerves. Effective multidrug therapy is available, and, with early detection and treatment, leprosy is curable. Yet disease management can be complicated by immune-mediated reactions, which may cause irreversible nerve damage and lead to lifelong disabilities that are associated with stigmatisation and discrimination. Despite progress in the past few decades, the disease burden has stalled, with some countries not meeting WHO goals of interrupting transmission and reducing incidence.
The Eijkman Oxford Clinical Research Unit (EOCRU) in Indonesia and Sumba Foundation collaborated with photographer Yoppy Pieter to express the human face of leprosy in Sumba, a remote island in eastern Indonesia. The project aimed to visualise the story of leprosy and raise awareness of this debilitating and heavily stigmatised disease.