The Copeland Family Trust Fund
About The Koraput Centre & Leprosy
This remarkable place treats all comers for free, no matter how long it takes. No one is turned away. Incredibly the in-patients side of all this is being done in 2022/23 for just £11,840 a year. Our aim is to fund as much of this as possible each year and over £117,000 has been donated since 2008, including the latest contribution of £6,000 in June 2022.
The most recent news from Koraput can be found on the Latest News from India page on this site, whilst case studies of actual patients and how the Centre fits into Lepra's overall plan for the region can be found by following the links at the bottom of this page.
Koraput is located in a remote part of the Eastern Ghat Mountains, in the state of Odisha, eastern India. It is one of the poorest and undeveloped areas in India and society there is still mainly tribal in nature. The state has the third largest population of Scheduled Tribes in India. They are officially designated groups of people recognised by the Constitution of India and among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India. Many people in the outlying village I visited had never seen a white man before, or anyone my size either come to that! The infrastructure is limited and travelling there in 2011 from the nearest airport took us 6 hours in a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
As well as providing reconstructive surgery, the patients need to be looked after before and after their operations and usually require extensive post-operative physiotherapy. The Koraput Centre also treats nerve function impairments, reactions and complicated ulcers. There is a laboratory facility based there for skin smear examination for the diagnosis of difficult cases. The hospital also offers counselling and outreach services. Just as importantly it offers a place of refuge, hope and dignity to some of the gentlest, poorest, downtrodden and stigmatised people I have ever met. Unfortunately given the nature of the disease and local society, sufferers are often viewed with great fear and can be shunned even by their own families.
For some unknown reason Leprosy is still very common in India, around 60% of the world’s new cases occur there. It is incredibly easy to treat if caught early, as all that is required is a simple course of tablets costing around 25p each! However untreated it leads to extensive nerve damage, mutilation, gangrene, amputations and blindness.
The disease develops slowly, its cells only divide and multiply every 16 days and symptoms often take years to develop. Its sufferers usually have problems with their immune systems and often suffer from TB or HIV. The actual Lepra website (www.lepra.org.uk) has more detail about the physical and social effects of the disease.