KIT Blog

How climate change is impacting the lives of people affected by leprosy


June 5th is World Environment Day. The theme for this year is Only One Earth, focusing on sustainable living. Psalm 24:1 reminds us that:

the earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. 

Over and over God reminds us to look after the land so that it can rest, regenerate and supply the needs of all who live in it.

Climate change is increasingly affecting countries where leprosy is present. This is having a severe impact on the lives of persons affected by leprosy and making it harder to end leprosy transmission.

In 2021, James Pender of The Leprosy Mission England & Wales, published a paper looking at the climate crisis and leprosy (visit: www.journal.cjgh. org/index.php/cjgh/article/view/543).

James’ paper considers the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on leprosy. It also looks at the increased vulnerability of persons affected by leprosy due to climate change, and examples of how environmental concerns can be integrated into health programs with salutary outcomes for individuals, communities, and the environment.

As James concludes, environmental concerns do not obviously interlink with the goal of defeating leprosy, but thinking more deeply shows that the link is real and cannot be ignored.

 Leprosy and climate change facts 

Leprosy colonies in Mumbai are located along storm drains that flood annually

4,000 leprosy affected farmers in Northwest Bangladesh were impacted by unprecedented flooding in 2017

Rice harvests on farms of ‘leprosy villages’ in Myanmar failed in 2020 as rainfall patterns changed

We know of people in Nepal who have struggled to get to higher ground during flooding because of leprosy-related disabilities

Also in Nepal, we have heard of people arriving at shelters during flooding, only to be turned away due to leprosy stigma

Thank you for your generosity of time through prayer.

Please pray for people whose livelihoods are impacted by climate change. Pray for communities under threat from devastating changes in weather patterns. Pray that governments and community groups everywhere will work together, and with more urgency, to address this crisis.