Based in Curitiba (Parana, Brazil), yet internationally active, the Alliance Against Leprosy Institute (AAL) is a non-profit association that combines Science, Education and Philanthropy to fight against Hansen’s disease – also known as leprosy. Founded in 2018 by Dermatologist and Leprologist Dr. Laila de Laguiche, AAL is an institution that focus exclusively on leprosy and aims to assist in the qualification of health professionals so that they can diagnose and treat leprosy in a manner that is ethical and committed to the people affected by the disease. Our philanthropic work brings together partnerships with the public power, private initiatives, the third sector and the scientific field, supporting researchers dedicated to one of the most neglected diseases in the world. It also acts in the dissemination of quality information to combat the pathology and encourage early diagnosis to assist the people affected by the disease.
The Alliance Against Leprosy Institute is the result of the private observations of a Brazilian doctor who faced the invisible reality that people with leprosy endure in Brazil with the second highest number of diagnoses in the world. With decades of experience in dermatology, humanitarian medicine and treatment of leprosy patients, Laila de Laguiche combined sensitivity for health treatment with a social vision that made her capable of perceiving how much this and other diseases germinate in environments with high social inequality and vulnerability.
This is the case in Brazil, which is classified by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as the seventh most unequal country in the world. Brazilians who live in poverty are most exposed to leprosy, suffering from the neglect that surrounds them and from being marginalized by the exclusion caused by the sequelae that follow late treatment. In this highly challenging environment, Dr. Laila decided to establish, in 2018, the Alliance Against Leprosy Institute.
The contagious passion of Dr. Laila for the research and treatment of leprosy has spread hope on the Brazilian horizon. A Brazilian and French citizen, with medical education in Brazil and postgraduation in Belgium in Tropical Medicine and International Public Health, Dr. Laila brings together technical wisdom with the nobility of philanthropy. She is a health professional with 20 years of experience in the field and who has graduated in International Health and Tropical Diseases from the Institute of Tropical Medicine of Antwerp (Belgium). She has worked as a consultant at the Brazilian Ministry of Health, as a representative of the South regional and was responsible for International Relations in the Brazilian Society of Hansenology (SBH). She currently chairs the activities of the AAL.
In 2019 the Institute inaugurated their project calendar, which has indirectly impacted about 6 million people. In just eight months of activities, AAL reached 866 health professionals, training them to act in some of the regions most affected by the disease in Brazil, such as the states of Mato Grosso and Maranhão. These actions have a multiplier and long-term effect, which should provide a higher quality of life in the region. The Institute has also given presentations focused on public policies with City Councilors of Curitiba (CMC) and lectures with dermatologists in Curitiba. It has also supported the scientific research that can improve the treatment of leprosy. At the international level, Dr. Laila represented Brazil with Itamaraty (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) at the Internation Leprosy Congress in Manila, Philippines. She has made important international connections, as well as gatherings with spokespersons from the United Nations (UN) and other international NGOs. With the support of partner companies, she has developed self-care kits for patients.
2020 has been a challenging year and has awoken even further the need to care about leprosy in society. The AAL conducted a large campaign for Purple January and is now structuring actions of online training and teleconsultation, which can bring a positive impact to the current environment of the pandemic and social isolation. The work in progress is renowned for the great quantity and quality of journalistic materials that address the AAL and resulted in the Institute winning an award for an article published by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.
Born from the desire to help patients, providing quality care and information, we always value our conduct on ethical and scientific foundations. The AAL Institute grew out of the friendship of its founding partners and the imminent need to organize Brazilian Society for a forceful action against leprosy and its consequences. We want to raise awareness without exposing the image of patients in a sensationalist or exploitative way. We act together with the patients, listening to their needs and addressing their preferences. We value transparency and we aim to report on our activities regularly.
The institute’s members are renowned scientists, prestigious doctors from various parts of Brazil, as well as icons of civil society, with unmatched experience in the administrative, financial, social and advocacy fields. With all this diversity we believe we will be able to achieve our goals.
Technical manager: Dr. Laila de Laguiche, dermatologist
CRM- PR 31295 /RQE 17087
Leprologist RQE 19706