The nation of Kiribati consists of around 33 coral islands or atolls spread over more than 3 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. More than half of the country’s population lives on the island of Tarawa resulting in overcrowding and a huge strain on resources – in particular, drinking water.
Kiribati is one of just a handful of countries who have a level of leprosy above that needed for elimination of leprosy as a public health risk (1 case per 10,000 population). In 2014, there were over 100 new cases of leprosy diagnosed and the very dense population of South Tarawa provides an easy opportunity for the spread of contagious diseases, of which leprosy is one.
Wayne Uan (left) took on the task of building our welfare programme in Kiribati about five years ago. He has an amazing network of contacts throughout the islands of Kiribati and with his energy and initiative has made a brilliant start to ensuring that the medical and social needs of current and former leprosy patients are being met.