33. Two Irishmen are responsible for curing leprosy.
Wesley Bailey was a teacher in India when he first encountered the segregated huts of men and women infected with leprosy. He and his wife were both shocked by what they saw, people disfigured and humiliated from this cruel and debilitating disease. When Bailey returned home to Dublin, he gave talks to spread awareness. The Leprosy Mission, a nonprofit relief organization was born. Eighty seven programs in twelve different countries raised money and support for people with leprosy. It was the first time anyone had ever dared help these forgotten people but was it really enough?
Enter Doctor Vincent Christopher Barry, working in a laboratory at Trinity College Dublin sometime in the 1950s when he finished his work . Barry explains that the cure for leprosy took some time; he thought the cure must be s omething like the cure of TB. It wasn't what we would call today an "Aha" moment when the cure was finally discovered. He studied the leper colonies of India, worked closely with a leprosy officer in Zimbabwe. Heading a team of nine scientists, he developed a multi-drug antibiotic therapy. Another Irish chemist on his team was Stanley McElhinney from Donegal, who negotiated the introduction of treatment to the Indian government in the 1970s. By 1981 The World Health Organization made it a standard treatment for leprosy across the globe.
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