World Leprosy Day is one of the health awareness days observed every last Sunday in January but it is celebrated every 30th January on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This date was chosen by the French humanitarian Raoul Follereau to pay tribute to the life of Mahatma Gandhi as he understood the importance of leprosy and looked forward to the betterment of people who are affected with this disease.
In some countries Leprosy Day is observed on 24th January.
World Leprosy Day is celebrated with an aim to change the attitude and increase public awareness about Leprosy or Hansen’s disease that can now be easily prevented or cured.
World Leprosy Day theme
Every year World Leprosy Day is celebrated with a theme to raise Public awareness about this infectious disease, last year the theme of world leprosy day 2019 is ‘ending discrimination, stigma, and prejudice’. This year theme of World Leprosy day 2020 will focus on “Overturning the Stigma of Leprosy”
What is Leprosy?
Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases recorded in the world. It is an infectious chronic disease of the skin and the nerves and especially in the cooler parts of the body like hands, feet, and face and if it is not treated or diagnosed quickly then it can result in debilitating disabilities.
The mode of transmission of this disease is not known, but the belief is that it is mostly transmitted by contact between the leprosy person and a healthy person. Leprosy is curable with MDT (multidrug therapy) and if the treatment was done in the early stages can prevent disability.
Fact: – Approx. 600 or more people are diagnosed with leprosy every day and also with the treatment. According to the statistics in 2014, 213,899 people were diagnosed and it is also estimated that millions are more are undiagnosed.
Leprosy is also known as Hansen disease which was named after the Norwegian physician, Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, who exposed the concept of leprosy that it is a hereditary disease. He stated that this disease has a bacterial cause. From the years, people with leprosy have been stigmatized and are considered to be at the extreme part of the society.
Fact: – Accordingly the majority of new leprosy cases occur in India, Indonesia, and Brazil where the diagnoses are often delayed or limited access to health services or fear of stigma and discrimination.