Uzuakoli Leprosy Centre

Uzuakoli Leprosy Centre, begun in 1931 by the PM Nigeria District, often called a 'colony' but formally a 'settlement', comprised two segregated villages for leprosy victims and a small hospital. It was established by Dr J.A.K. Brown and by 1936 there were over 800 residents. He was succeeded by Dr Frank Davey who extended the work to 111 district clinics, trained leprosy control officers, and with his colleague Dr John Lowe pioneered treatment with dapsone which made possible the discharge of thousands of patients as symptom-free. Uzuakoli was the foremost leprology centre in Africa until it was destroyed in the civil war of 1966-70. Ruined and abandoned, it was resuscitated in the 1970s by Margaret Snell and developed in the 1980s by Ros Colwill into a hive of activity with agricultural and light industrial projects and a range of rehabilitation workshops, as well as a primary school for the children of both staff and patients and a large chapel. Thanks to a sustained programme of public education, both the stigma and the incidence of leprosy gradually declined and the majority of residents were able to leave the settlement and live independently, using the skills they had acquired. By 2010 the last families had been rehoused and the settlement fell quiet, with a small number of frail elderly patients still being cared for.

See also Medical missions.