The Lancet – 2017 Photo competition Winner – 1st Image 

Deeply honoured to have been chosen by The Lancet medical journal as a 2017 global HIGHLIGHTS photo competition winner for my image ‘Laughter and Leprosy’ taken in Philippines.

The image was published in print in the end of year edition of The Lancet.

Laughter and Leprosy - Alexander Kumar

Laughter and leprosy – Alexander Kumar, King’s College London, London, UK


I met this couple in a remote community in the Philippines. Holding hands, they told me they have been married for 69 years-the road hasn’t been easy, but they’re still laughing and in love. Although free multidrug therapy has reduced the number of leprosy patients, the number of new patients globally has plateaued in the past decade at about 200 000-250 000 per year. Now, the last mile to make leprosy history is to interrupt its transmission. About 2000 new leprosy patients are detected each year in the Philippines. Launched as part of a Philippines Department of Health-Novartis Foundation Task Force for Leprosy, the Leprosy Alert and Response Network System (LEARNS) was first implemented in the lloilo province and now covers 27 provinces in nine regions. It is a mobile phone-based system that allows front-line providers to send images of suspect leprosy lesions and symptoms via SMS to a specialist, helping to reduce delays in diagnosis and treatment.