Photographer: Maxim Korotchenko
Title: Lost in Leprosy
Location: Astrakhan, Russia
Period: 09/2020 - 09/2020
Category: Solutions

For many years leprosy in Russia was under the close attention of the science community. Now, though the quantity of new leprosy cases is low it could increase dangerously in the number of cases.

The decision of closing the Leprosy Institute in Astrakhan first came about in 2020. But after extensive of media coverage, the Russian Ministry of Health paused the closure and restructuring. Suddenly at the and of 2021 they abruptly announced that Leprosy center in Astrakhan would finally close and that it would be absorbed by Astrakhan State Medical University.

As of 2021, there are four leprosy hospitals in Russia and the one in focus located in Astrakhan, near the southern borders of the country in a leprosy endemic region. Apart from the hospital with real patients, there is also only one Institute of leprosy research.

At this moment in time, the hospital is home only to a few patients who undergo treatment. Every patient has their own room in the big old-wooden ancient house, that was used as a club for entertainment prior to the 1917 revolution.

Research fellows of the Leprosy center carry out large scale scientific work studying the bacteria of leprosy with the aid of test mice in a vivarium.

Notably, there is even an abandoned building in the territory of the institute that had been a former prison for criminals suffering from leprosy who were isolated there during the Soviet era there.

Research fellows of the Institute suggest that the closure could pose serious problems with leprosy cases increasing in future directly linked to the close of the last leprosy hospitals.

Head of a man with reddish skin leprosy symptoms in the Museum of Leprosy Institute

Portraits with photographed leprosy symptoms on the old Soviet slides in the Museum of Leprosy Institute

One of the patients of the Leprosy hospital at the Leprosy Institute garden

Waxen parts of the body with different leprosy signs in the Museum of Leprosy Institute

One of the oldest patients in leprosy hospital Ivan with his doctor Yulia Levicheva Ivan has been taking a cure here since 1948

Doctor walks by the territory of Institute Before 1920s this territory with old wooden houses was an entertainment garden called Bohemia with casino and restaurants

In the vivarium - test laboratories with infected animals

Research fellow holds the test mouse for the scientific researches in vivarium They are infected with leprosy bacteria

Treatment procedures for the patients with leprosy

Ward for patients in hospital Now there are only 6-7 patients in the Institute at all

Every patient has it s own living room in the big old-wooden ancient house that was used as a entertainment club before the revolution in 1917

Flowers in the Leprosy Research Institute hall