The institute was founded in Moscow 61 years ago and was transferred to Astrakhan some years later.

Reasons: The prevalence of leprosy is higher in the south. The region of Astrakhan is an endemic area (the prevalence of leprosy from generation to generation is verifiable.) Training programmes for medical doctors as well as training conferences take place in the institute.

Conferences over the last 10 years:

  • 1998 50th anniversary of the Institute
  • 2003 The MDT-therapy / WHO distribution
  • 2005 Rehabilitation – introduction of Modulan gripping aid for patients with deformities of hands .
  • 2008 60th anniversary of the Institute

For the first time, two languages are allowed during the conference: Russian and English.

December 2006: Change of the Management: Prof. Anatoli Juscenko retires and Dr. Viktor Duiko becomes Director of the Institute.

Considerable changes in leprosy work take place:

  • The old Russian Institute opens its doors for world-wide leprosy work.
  • Cured leprosy patients take part in the Leprosy Conference in Astrakhan.
  • The period of treatment and healing becomes a partnership between doctor and patient.

As far as I know, this leprosarium is the only one without an isolation ward. It is located in the city-centre and closely connected with the Leprosy Institute, almost like a functional unit. During the times of the USSR, it was the central point for diagnose and therapy for the whole Soviet Union under the direction of Prof. Anatoly Juscenko. Since 1990, the Institute and the Leprosarium are in charge of Russia only, although leprologists from the former Soviet countries still look for support in Astrakhan. However, help cannot be maintained for financial reasons.

Eröffnung der Konferenz
Opening ceremony of the conference

Numerous leprologists arrived in Astrakhan in September 1998 on the occasion of the Institute’s 50th anniversary. I remember very vivid interchanges with delegates from almost all leprosariums and leprosy centres already famous during the time of the Soviet Union. I had met these people during my visits to the leprosariums. Lectures and scientific exchange were part of the programme. I felt honoured to pass on the regards from the German Leprosy Relief Association as well as the DAHW to the committee of leprologists. The desire to work with both institutes was expressed. The participants, who came from different leprosariums, presented the situation of leprosy people and gave an overview of what had been achieved so far.
I enjoyed this opportunity to talk to a community of like-minded people very much. Naturally, I visited leprosy people in Astrakhan – both in-patients as well as out-patients.
Transports of humanitarian / aid goods from Dinslaken to Astrakhan were carried out in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Leprologen aus Russland und Zentralasien
Leprologists from Russia and Central Asia

The scientific exchange also included an invitation of Professor Anatoly Juscenko to Germany in 1999 in order to visit the Leprosy Institute in Würzburg and to intensify the contact with the Germany Relief Association German Relief Association (GLRA).

Beginning of November 2003, a conference of Leprologists from countries of the former Soviet Union was held in Astrakhan and a direct contact between the WHO and these countries was established. The supply of an antibiotics combination, the so-called MDT (Multi-Drug Therapy) for all patients was secured in above mentioned countries according to the WHO-scheme. Leprologists were then in a position to order the necessary quantities of MDT medicine directly customs-free and free of charge.

A MDT therapy is indispensable for a whole year in order to cure leprosy patients and eliminate the disease.

September 2005 – Modulan training in Astrakhan, Russia

From September 12 – 18, 2005, a training for leprologists took place in Astrakhan, Russia, by the Caspian Sea.

Participants came from Europe, Middle Asia and Central Asia, They became familiar with Modulan, a two-component Epoxyd-resin compound, which permits a quick and economic production of gripping aids made to measure.

Modulanschulung der Ärzte
Training with Modulan
Modulanschulung der Ärzte
Modulan training with medical doctors

Leprosy patients suffering from mutilated and disabled hands are being rehabilitated!

Modulan gripping aid replaces lacking limbs. It serves as a connection of the mutilated hand with the item that the leprosy patient wants to use, e.g. a spoon, pen, toothbrush, scissors, etc.

Individuell angepasst
Individually adjusted

Since the leprosy patient becomes less dependent of other people, his self-esteem and self-confidence are strengthened. He can take charge of his life and thus facilitate his reintegration in the community.

Each leprologists in Astrakhan was supplied with the epoxyad-rasin compound so that after returning to his country he could offer such incredible help by means of the Modulan gripping-aid.


September 2011

This was an extraordinary journey for me!

For me, this was an exceptional journey. It lead us to Astrakhan to the most southern town of Russia into the delta of the largest Russian River, the Wolga. It was a venture to found the only leprosy centre of the former USSR as well as a leprosy research institute, a leprosy clinic and a leprosy outclinic in the centre of the city.

I was familiar with this leprosy centre. I have often visited the centre and was awared a honorary member of the institute. What was extraordinary for me was that I did not come here alone but was accompanied by two persons from Dinslaken, one of them was our parish priest. He was not afraid to visit the leprosy patients and even touched them. The fact that  the director of GLRA, Mr. Burkard Kömm, from Würzburg was also present, was a confirmation that GLRA, of whom I have been a member for many years, was providing me with support.

The International Leprosy Conference in Astrakhan, attended by 35 participants from 10 countries, also showed us, that the fight against leprosy is in international hands and can be won. I am always amazed that leprologists who come from alienated and even estranged countries embraced and helped each other and have become friends.

Ärzte und Pfleger
Doctors and medical staff

The leprosy people’s joy was obvious, since they were the centre of attention during the conference. They were also supplied and taken care of from Dinslaken.


My personal concern regarding leprosy work is the detection of new cases. Each single case has to be found as quickly as possible:

  • To interrupt the chain of infection
  • To start with the treatment before long-term side-effects of leprosy destroy the body