Acworth Leprosy Museum

A Unique Project in India

Late Mr. Sharad S. Naik,
Former Hon. Secretary,
ALH - RRE Society

The idea of a Leprosy Museum was broached by late Sharad S. Naik, Founder Secretary of ALH-RRE Society

Acworth Leprosy Museum is the joint project of Acworth Municipal Hospital for Leprosy and Acworth Leprosy Hospital Research Society, Wadala, Mumbai.

The Museum is the only one of its kind in India.  It is dedicated to millions of leprosy sufferers throughout history, to the philanthropists and Social workers who ameliorated their sufferings, and pays tribute to those whose labours delivered remedies and other benefits to the most marginalized of human society.

The Museum has been set up to tell people about :

The Homeless Leper Asylum, Bombay 1890

Leprosy The Disease

Time Line of Developments in Treatment

Philanthropic Efforts and Approaches

Self Settled Colonies

Literature and Leprosy

Archival Records

Offcial Reports

Leprosy Under the Legal Gaze

Leprosy- Health Education


Virtual Tour

The Museum displays consist of the following modules :

Module 1 - The Homeless Leper Asylum, Bombay 1890


  • Why and How it was founded to deal with the perceived danger from leprosy beggars.
  • Birth and early years of the Asylum with important milestones
  • Highlights unique features such as - Respect for all religions, No rigid segrigation of sexes, All communities in bombay contibuted to it's establishment

Module 2 - Leprosy The Disease

Leprosy as a disease has been stigmatized since ancient times due to the repulsive sight of ulcers and deformities that the sufferers often developed.


  • Its Manifestations;
  • Concepts in Indian Medical Traditions;
  • Concepts in Modern Medicine.

Charak Samhita (c 200 BCE) elobrates on Nidana (Pathology & Diagonsis)

Module 3 – Time Line of Developments in Treatment

For over three millennia, the favored treatment was oil massage. Although Armauer Hansen of Norway identified the leprosy bacillus in 1873, a scientifically proven therapy was not found till the late 1940s.


  • Historical Perspectives :
    Main therapies from 1854 to 1982 :
      Experiments and Results, such as:  Oil of Hydnocarpus wigthiana (Kowti)
    Experiments of Dr. Bhau Daji-1868-1872.  
    Oil of “Gurjan”, experiments of Dr. J. Dougall-1874.                 
    Vaccine Therapies: 1899 to the present.
  • Modern Perspectives

Module 4 - Philanthropic Efforts and Approaches


  • Foundation of Some Historic Institutions and Organizations
    Set up by -Christian Missions; Princely States;
    Local and Central Governments; Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave;
    Endowed by Wealthy Philanthropists - Brief Histories with milestones
  • Individuals:
    Write up on Personalities such as Shri Vinoba Bhave, Mahatma Gandhiji, Father Damien, Dr.Hansen Dr.Vendye Carter etc.

Sir Dinshah Manockji Petit Leper Asylum, Ratnagiri, 1873

Module 5 - Self Settled Colonies


  • Brief History- Self Rehabilitation by Affected People.
  • In India there are around 700 such self settled colonies

Module 6 - Literature and Leprosy


  • It is no wonder that a disease, which has brought out contradictory human reactions, has been a subject of literary works, such as Religious, Biographies, Autobiographies, Plays, Films, Novels & Dramas.

Module 7 - Archival Records


  • Records dating from 1860 till 1950 from States Archives of Maharashtra,
    Also copies of leprosy archives from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan state archives
  • Other Documents e.g., Medical, Social with special reference to India

Module 8 - Offcial Reports


  • Official Reports Pre- and Post- 1947
  • British Empire Leprosy Relief Association (BELRA)
  • Indian Council of BELRA (ICBELRA)
  • Indian Association of Leprologists (IAL)
  • International Organisations
  • League of Nations
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • International Leprosy Associations

Module 9 - Leprosy Under the Legal Gaze

Society's response to the repulsive appearance of affected persons was one of rejection and it even went to the extent of abetting suicide by patients.


  • The legislation enacted in the late 19th century justify segregation and institutionalisation.
  • Civil Law : Abetment to Suicide; Inheritance; Matrimonial
  • Criminal Law : Compulsory Segregation; Denial Of Certain Trades And Callings; Restrictions In Use of Public Transport
  • Mendicancy

Module 10 - Leprosy- Health Education

Modern focus is on health education of the public


  • Posters
  • Pamphlets
  • Booklets
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