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Who we are

History of NLR

In the 1960s, Mrs Francisca Anten visited her son, who worked in a hospital in Tanzania. The situation of the leprosy patients shocked her. Her son asked her to help him establish a clinic for leprosy patients, who were not accepted in general hospitals.

She began raising funds and met Professor Dick Leiker of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), who had dedicated his entire medical career to the fight against leprosy. Together they established the foundation of Netherlands Leprosy Relief in 1967.

Nearly 50 years later, NLR is an international forerunner in freeing the world of leprosy and of exclusion due to disabilities.

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Photography: Jan Joseph Stok

Vision and mission


A world free of leprosy and exclusion due to disabilities.


NLR promotes and supports the health, ability and full inclusion in society of people affected by leprosy and persons with disabilities.


  • NLR works with governments, NGOs, research institutions and Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) to promote the accessibility and quality of services via the provision of training, expert advice, research and innovation

  • NLR develops its policies and programs in accordance with the WHO Global Leprosy Strategy and the ILEP Global Leprosy Strategy. In addition, we ensure that they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). With the aim of:

    - combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and their consequences,

    - contribute to poverty reduction,

    - secure the human rights and social inclusion of people affected by leprosy and persons with disabilities.

  • NLR strives to integrate leprosy control into other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and disability control programs.

  • NLR lobbies to keep leprosy and disability inclusion on policy agendas at all levels.

  • NLR supports rehabilitation services, reduction of stigmatization and the promotion of self-​care and empowerment.

NLR priority areas

  • Prevention and early detection of leprosy

  • Prevention of disabilities.

  • Empowerment of people affected by leprosy and people with disabilities.

Read more about these priorities: ‘What we do and how we work’

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Photography: Jan Joseph Stok /​NLR

International office and country offices

NLR has its International Office in the Netherlands and 7 Country Offices in Asia, Africa and Latin America combatting leprosy in 12 countries in these continents.

NLR is managed by an executive director (J. van Berkel) and governed by supervisory board (chair: B. van Ojik). The board determines remuneration policy, the executive director’s salary, and other payments in accordance with the statutory regulations and guidelines that govern charities in The Netherlands. Board members have specific responsibilities in their own areas of expertise.

Click here for the organization chart of the International Office (pdf)

More information about the NLR organization see ‘Countries’ and ‘Contact’.

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