About St Lukes

About St Luke’s Leprosy Hospital

St Luke’s Leprosy Hospital is situated at Peikulam in Tamil Nadu, not far from the southernmost tip of India. St Luke’s is a referral centre for leprosy patients suffering from complications, which cannot be managed by general practitioners, private clinics and Government hospitals.

There are three wards: two for men and one for women, with 32 beds in each.

If the plight of the leprosy patient in general is pathetic, that of the female leprosy patient is tragic. When a husband is affected by leprosy his wife will almost certainly stay with him until death parts them, but if a wife is attacked by leprosy, the husband very often abandons not only his wife but also his own healthy children. These unfortunate children often tend to become beggars as well as lepers. St Luke’s gives refuge to such children. They are given everything free – food, clothing, shelter and education and therefore blossom into self-reliant citizens.

Even after a patient has been cured of leprosy society continues to ostracize them, denying them employment opportunities. These unfortunate victims have only one option, begging. St Luke’s extends its services even beyond the hospital. The rejected are employed in the Agri Farm attached to the Leprosarium and given training in scientific goat farming. After training they are sent home with a few goats given free (returnable in kind later when the animal kids). By rearing the goats they manage to earn a decent living.

Leprosy is still shrouded in mystery and superstition. Many people do not even know that leprosy can be cured. Visiting villages and schools with films and audio-visual aids, the St Luke’s Leprosarium’s Health Education Team preaches the good news that leprosy is curable.

Over the ages Leprosy has been considered one of the most despicable diseases, and victims have been despised throughout history and kept in separate places such as leper colonies and sanatoriums. Even today, most people with leprosy are shunned by their neighbours and are held at arms length.

Reaching leprosy cases in India is a particular problem because:

  • Many tribal communities do not accept modern medicines easily.
  • Forest and hilly areas are relatively inaccessible.
  • There are scattered villages with limited accessibility.
  • Some people try to hide the disease due to the social stigma and local myths and prejudices.
  • Over the ages Leprosy has been considered one of the most despicable diseases, and victims have been despised throughout history and kept in separate places such as leper colonies and sanatoriums. Even today, most people with leprosy are shunned by their neighbours and are held at arms length.
  • “The war against leprosy is not over, though many a battle has been won”.

About St Lukes 1

The patients who have been cured of leprosy make these colourful woven baskets. St Luke’s provide the raw material, training and marketing which enables them to earn an income and to live with dignity.

About St Lukes 2

Patricia Kinzett and Kathy Miller of The Neem Tree Trust pictured with Dr Jeyabalan at the agri-farm attached to the hospital. St Luke’s gives training in goat farming to the patients and once they are cured of leprosy they are sent home with a few goats, returnable in kind later when the animal kids. In this way the ex-patients can earn a decent living once they return to their villages.

Read Mr Mohammed Yoosuf’s story

The Neem Tree Trust helps support children of leprosy patients at St Luke’s and also sponsors a bed in the women’s ward at the hospital.

St Luke’s have a number of supporters in Scotland, the Isle of Wight and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, who have visited the hospital at Peikulam and have been moved and impressed by the work Dr Jeyabalan and his team do in curing patients who are suffering from this disease and teaching them how disability can be prevented through self-care. Many make donations specifically for the Leprosy Hospital through The Neem Tree Trust