Lepra joins Rotary International to increase Covid-19 testing in India


A 'Covid-19 Awareness Project' volunteer (L) uses an oximeter to check on a patient infected with leprosy as part of a general health checkup for all inmates at the Gandhi Leprosy Seva Sangh rehabilitation centre, in Ahmedabad on October 11, 2020. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)
A 'Covid-19 Awareness Project' volunteer (L) uses an oximeter to check on a patient infected with leprosy as part of a general health checkup for all inmates at the Gandhi Leprosy Seva Sangh rehabilitation centre, in Ahmedabad on October 11, 2020. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)

By Pramod Thomas



UK-based international specialist charity Lepra and Rotary International have joined together to ramp up testing for Covid-19 in India, the second most affected country in the world.

Through fundraising in the UK and assistance from Rotary international, the Blue Peter Public Health and Research Centre(BPHRC) in Hyderabad has procured a new Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, which helps to isolate genetic materials based on swab samples.

The focus will be on frontline health workers and those in the most at risk and vulnerable categories, a statement said.



Former president of Rotary Club Stratford Suraiya Kassamally has donated towards the project which was assisted by the Rotary Club of Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad.

“We are profoundly grateful to Rotary for their hard work, dedication and support of Lepra. Covid-19 has had an enormous effect on the lives of everyone across the world. The partnership between Rotary International and Lepra will enable us to make a substantive difference to the lives of thousands,” said Lepra trustee Nayan Patel.

“The addition of the new PCR machine has transformed BPHRC into a Covid response laboratory making it the only NGO lab in the state of Telangana, India, to have contributed to Covid lab testing,” said Dr Aparna Srikantam, head of research at BPHRC.



“The centre has carried out more than 2,500 tests serving suspected Covid cases, family contacts, the general community, the vulnerable,
health care workers, police and all similar people who fall into two groups essential workers and marginalised people.”

Geoff Prescott, chief executive of Lepra stressed that all epidemic control rests on early detection and active case finding.

Himanshu Jain, founder president of Rotary Club of Stratford, pointed out that they are working together with Lepra to do a pilot Leprosy Control Programme in India.



He said: “In India, unlike the UK, testing is often not free and that leaves the poor very vulnerable. We sincerely hope that everyone has access to testing as that can be the difference between life and death.”

In November 2019, Lepra and three Rotary International clubs in India and one in the UK signed a MoU to combat leprosy.

Since 1924,  Lepra has been working to beat leprosy in India, Bangladesh and Mozambique by finding, diagnosing and treating people affected by the disease.