Ethiopia, Africa’s second biggest country by population, has a proud and ancient civilisation now rapidly modernising – and is celebrated as the origin of coffee. ‘Thirteen months of sunshine’ is its tourism motto. Despite the economic growth, access to clean water and healthcare is limited outside the cities, and there are around 4,000 reported new cases of leprosy each year. Ignorance, misunderstanding and stigma surround leprosy within the general community. Though leprosy is back on the Government’s agenda and medical professionals are getting training in diagnosing and treating the disease, it will take time for these skills to become widespread.
TLM’s involvement in Ethiopia was for many years through providing staff and funding to the All African Leprosy Tuberculosis Rehabilitation and Research Training Centre (ALERT), a referral hospital for leprosy and an international training and research centre. Since the 1990s TLM has engaged also with other partners, most notably the Ethiopian National Association of Persons Affected by Leprosy (ENAPAL) which has around 20,000 leprosy-affected and other disabled people as members. Such partnerships enable TLM to work with people affected by leprosy at community level in several regions. In 2011 TLM established its own office and staff team in Addis Ababa.
TLM’s vision in Ethiopia is ‘People affected by leprosy and their communities are engaged in transforming their lives’. To achieve this TLM works actively with current and new partners. As a member of the Leprosy Expert Advisory Group, led by the Federal Ministry of Health, TLM is also able to influence and address leprosy matters at national level.
TLM’s country leader in Ethiopia is Tanny Hagens, originally from the Netherlands, and the annual budget is around £250,000.