Netherlands Leprosy Relief (NLR), a member of International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), is supporting National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) of India since 1993...
Start of a mission
Netherlands Leprosy Relief (de Leprastichting) was a mission, started by Mrs. Anten, the mother of a doctor in Tropical Medicine, who was a leprosy expert at the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam.
Mrs. Anten visited her son, Dr. Hans Anten, in Tanzania in the sixties, when he worked at the Sengerema Hospital. He wanted to open a special leprosy clinic, because leprosy patients were not welcome at the general hospital. There was no money for such clinic & that’s why he asked his mother for help.
The mother of Dr. Anten hesitated no moment and acted upon the cry for help. “I addressed the right business people and held presentations throughout the country, even though I was nearly sixty years old. In the mornings I left my house to tell my story at schools, sport and social clubs, even at churches straight from the pulpit”. Through her drive and actions at schools Mrs. Anten was able to raise over 200,000 Dutch guilders in just one province (Limburg) in the Netherlands.
Establishment of Netherlands Leprosy Relief
Her actions brought Mrs. Anten in contact with Dr. Dick Leiker, leprosy specialist and senior scientific researcher at the Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam. Together they concluded that, just like in other European countries, a professional organisation on leprosy should be established in the Netherlands. On 30 March 1967 they founded Netherlands Leprosy Relief (NLR). Prof.Dr.D.Leiker died in 1995.
The work of NLR quickly expanded from Tanzania to other countries in Africa and Asia, later even South America. Mrs. Anten remained secretary of the NLR until her 72nd birthday and continued her presentations to that date. “People said I could convey the story so well. But I could do so because I could just see the helpless leprosy patients in Tanzania standing before me”.
Mrs. Anten was knighted in the Order of Oranje Nassau, a Royal decoration given by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands to a Dutch national or foreigner who has shown exceptional merit towards an individual, the State or society as a whole. She passed away in 2002, at the age of 95.
Netherlands Leprosy Relief now supports national health authorities in over twenty countries with endemic leprosy problems, collaborates with international partners in leprosy control.