Missionary Priest in Ghana Praised as Unsung Hero in Fight Against Leprosy

Fr. Andrew Campbell, Irish Divine Word Missionary Priest working in Ghana and helping cured Lepers with some volunteers distributing items to some cured lepers in Nkachina in the Yendi Diocese. At the Background is Archbishop Emeritus Gregory Ebo Kpiebaya of Tamale Archdiocese.

Irish Divine Word Missionary Priest working in the West African nation of Ghana, Fr. Andrew Campbell, has been extolled as one of the unsung heroes in the fight against stigmatization of persons with leprosy and support for their treatment and rehabilitation.

“He deserves special recognition and mention for devoting his life to showing love and care for persons with leprosy,” the Member of Parliament for Korley Klottey Constituency, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, said in a statement she delivered on the floor of Ghana’s Parliament House in Accra recently.

Speaking on the nation’s “call to action to end discrimination against persons with leprosy”, the law maker told the 275 parliamentarians that “Fr. Campbell’s selflessness, love, care and advocacy has contributed significantly to improving the lot of people living with leprosy in Ghana.”

For his many years’ efforts in fighting against stigmatization of lepers in the West African country, the Parliamentarian observed that “if Fr. Campbell and his team of volunteers can do so much to alleviate the plight of cured lepers, then as a nation we can do more.”

73-year old Fr. Campbell has worked in Ghana as a missionary priest of the Society of Divine Word (SVD) since October 1971 after his ordination in December 1970. While in Ghana, he founded the Lepers Aid Committee (LAC) in 1993, consisting mainly of young people who devote themselves to the care of cured lepers in Ghana.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global prevalence of leprosy at the end of 2015 was 176,176 cases representing 0.2 cases per 10,000 people. The number of new cases reported globally in 2015 was 211,973 (2.9 cases per 100,000). This number of new cases indicates a pattern of continued transmission of infection.

The world commemorates Leprosy Day on the last Sunday of every year, a day set aside to raise awareness about the disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured.

Reports from the Lepers Aid Committee indicate that approximately 1,000 people are living with leprosy in Ghana.

Dr. Zanetor stated that “sustained efforts must be made to keep the disease at bay, lest we risk the virtual possibility of resurgence.”

She commended LAC for striving to bring to the fore of the public “the need to help one another and to fight for the rights and needs of cured lepers and to bring back their livelihood” as well as “helping to reduce and eliminate the stigmatization and discrimination against cured lepers.”

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LAC caters for the well-being, food, clothing, medical and domestic bills and even arranges for burial of some deceased lepers.

The daughter of former Ghanaian President noted that leprosy, also known as the Hansen’s disease, “is a disease that has been mostly forgotten or placed on the back burner of health care priorities.”

He underscored the need for the country to focus on the plight of the 1,000 plus people in Ghana living with the disease.

On improving the living conditions of cured lepers in Ghana, the young Ghanaian Parliamentarian stated that although there has been a marked improvement in the treatment and support for persons with leprosy, a lot more needs to be done to improve their living conditions.

She noted that the daily feeding fee for lepers has been increased to GHc1.00 (US$0.2) and with the trying economic conditions in the country, the amount is woefully inadequate.


She suggested a review of the figure “to reflect the current economic situation and to alleviate the plight of our brothers and sisters with leprosy.”

Dr. Zanetor observed that one of the main challenges that persons with leprosy face is stigmatization and discrimination. According to the lawmaker, these people are marginalized and treated with scorn within their communities. This, she said, leads to situations where the disease goes unreported and people refusing to seek early treatment for fear of being marginalized.

“There is the need for concerted effort towards ending discrimination against persons with disability and I call on government, the clergy, Civil Society Organizations, traditional authorities, politicians and all facets of society to join the fight discrimination and stigmatization against affected people,” she implored.

She stressed that lepers “need our love, care and support,” stating that since leprosy often starts as a harmless skin patch which is mistaken for common skin condition, “it is imperative to encourage people to report any kind of skin lesion for proper diagnosis to be made and the right treatment administered. This way, the disease can be cured and the consequent disability prevented.”

“We must also work towards ensuring that the drugs to treat leprosy are readily available so that disease can be managed within communities”, she stated, pointing out that “the national referral hospital must be adequately resourced to be better placed to support the prevention and management of disabilities in persons affected by leprosy.”

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She reiterated the need for leprosy to be reviewed as a matter of urgency given increasing number of reported cases.

“There is no doubt that public education must be intensified on early detection, prevention and treatment in order to de-stigmatize leprosy and those who have diagnosed with it,” she said.

Celebrating the 2020 Leprosy Day in at the Eyindakrom Leprosarium, near Cape Coast in the Central Region in January, Fr. Campbell called on the government through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) to speed up the process of placing inmates of the Ankaful (Central Region), Kokofu (Ashanti Region) and Nkanchina (Northern Region) Leprosaria on the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) programme.

The cleric said that “this is something we have to follow through to make sure that you (the cured lepers) are on the LEAP programme,” adding that “It is the least we can do for you, to make sure that every month you get some subsidy from the government.”

He told the inmates that “any occasion I keep on asking the Vice President to the Ministers of State to increase the money, because GHc30 a month (US$5.5), which is GHc 1.00 a day ($0.2), is not very much. So, I will keep on asking to increase it to more than GHc1.00 a day for you. I will continue to fight for you so that more is added to the GHc1.00 to help you to live.”

“Even those in prison in Ghana get food worth GHc 1.80 (US$0.33) every day, and here you are in a place like this and it is not your fault that you have leprosy, and you get less than they (prisoners) get. You should get more, so we will keep on pressing the government to give you more than GHc1.00 a day,” the Ghana-based Irish cleric said.