For more than 50 years, on the last Sunday of January, thousands of people across the globe have stopped to remember those who suffer from leprosy. This year, World Leprosy Day falls on January 29th. The day’s goal is to raise awareness of a disease that many people believe to be extinct, when in fact around 210,00 new cases are diagnosed each year. Every day 52 girls and boys around the world are diagnosed with leprosy.
World Leprosy Day was the idea of the great French humanitarian, Raoul Follereau, who dedicated many years to fundraising and helping those affected by leprosy. Initially, this day of prayer was to achieve two things. First, Follereau believed that those affected by leprosy should receive the same respect, dignity and quality of care as any other patient. Second, he wanted greater awareness of the disease in order to change attitudes and to reduce stigma.
Leprosy is an infectious disease of the skin and nerves which, if not diagnosed and treated quickly, can result in debilitating disabilities. The effects of leprosy are exacerbated by the negative stigma surrounding the disease.
There are many different ways to get involved with World Leprosy Day. Below are some ways to do so:
- Take the Pledge. Pledge your support to help beat leprosy.
- Share it on social media by using either #WLD2017 or #WorldLeprosyDay
- Inform a friend, by simply sharing your knowledge to someone is very beneficial and go a long way.
- Donate money to charities that help leprosy such as the UK registered international charity called Lepra.
Today, leprosy is not just a disease that is forgotten, but the people as well. Help end leprosy by getting involved.