Dr Maggie Burgess with a leprosy-affected person

Promise Nepal's Story

Promise Nepal was born fifteen years ago, thanks to the vision of one woman. A keen trekker, Dr. Maggie Burgess had long been a visitor to the Himalayan country of Nepal, developing a great affection for the magnificence of its landscape and the warmth of its people. Looking to improve her language skills, she enrolled at the School of Oriental and African Studies to learn Nepalese. At the same time, ready for a new challenge in her medical career, Maggie was also working for a Diploma in Tropical Nursing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


“There are rare times in our lives when everything fits together and allows us to make a real contribution…” 


As part of her studies, Maggie discovered that the ancient disease of leprosy still existed in some parts of the world, including Nepal where it is highly endemic.

But perhaps more shockingly, Maggie also discovered that leprosy


“I asked myself, why are so many Nepalese people still suffering from this curable disease? …”


She set out to find the answer. In Nepal she met another dynamic, driven woman, Dr. Pradhan, who with a small but dedicated staff were caring for leprosy-effected people in Kathmandu. Here Maggie learnt how in the poverty of a developing country like Nepal, anachronistic cultural beliefs and religious traditions allow leprosy to thrive. Here though, she also learnt how appropriate education and medical intervention could transform lives.

Maggie met with various charities like Lepra and The Leprosy Mission International and investigated the leprosy work being done in Nepal. She studied the results of the World Health Organisation’s worldwide leprosy elimination campaign and the 12 million people that had been cured of leprosy. She found that the disease remained a threat to public health in several countries and Nepal had the 4th highest incidence of leprosy in the world.

“This was my rare time ; I saw my opportunity. My love and knowledge of Nepal, my increased ability to communicate with the Nepalese people and my studies in Tropical Nursing would all be called into service to help these people.”


Maggie knew she had to do something. She knew that she had to raise both funds and awareness of a disease that most people believe no longer exists. Thanks to the faith and support of Howard Flight MP who clearly understood her vision, Dr. Burgess launched Promise Nepal at the House of Commons in 2002. It was the fulfilment of a promise that she had made to Dr. Pradhan and the Nepalese people.




      “I promise, somehow, I will help you.”