What is World Leprosy Day?
We can end the tragedy of leprosy. But we can’t do it alone. That’s why each year, on the last Sunday of January, the world comes together to raise awareness about leprosy and the impact it continues to have on many lives. We call this day World Leprosy Day. This year, it falls on January 29th.
This international day is an opportunity to celebrate people who have experienced leprosy, raise awareness of the disease, and call for an end to leprosy-related stigma and discrimination. You can follow online with #WorldLeprosyDay.
Didn’t Know that Leprosy still Exists?
Hundreds of thousands living in poverty are affected by this disabling disease every year.
How does leprosy impact a person?
When leprosy is diagnosed at the earliest sign– usually small patches on the skin– the disease can be treated easily with a combination of medicines taken for about a year. These medicines are called ‘Multi-drug Therapy.’ With treatment, usually there will be no other symptoms arising from the disease. People are considered cured from leprosy after taking the treatment.
But, left untreated, leprosy can be a thief. The disease damages the nervous system. This means that affected people will lose the ability to feel. When you can’t feel pain, injuries and infection can crop up easily– this can lead to amputation.
The nervous system also helps the body to use our hands and fingers, to walk, and to blink. As leprosy progresses, serious disabilities including loss of mobility, use of hands, and even blindness can occur.
Leprosy is still feared. So many people living with the disease, or even those who have been cured but have the scars of the disease, are discriminated against. People affected by leprosy face rejection from family or their community and loss of their job. Some are pushed to live in communities of marginalized people.
Without cure and care, people live in poverty and destitution on the margins of society.