Using Religious Leaders as a Platform for Zero Leprosy and Zero Discrimination

While myths associated with leprosy lead to discrimination that prevents people from seeking treatment, respected faith leaders can leverage their influence to reduce this stigma. Leprosy-focused organisations, inter-faith leaders, and the national leprosy programme in Sri Lanka partnered to conceive a cascading training approach to raising community awareness of leprosy. To start, a national interfaith conference allowed delegates to connect across faith lines with a common goal. Faith leaders were trained as “trainers of trainers.” They then served as leprosy awareness facilitators in their communities. As a result of faith leaders’ outreach, people have increased their awareness of leprosy, new cases of leprosy have been detected, and people affected by leprosy are better supported within their communities.