The last Sunday of January is celebrated annually as World Leprosy Day (WLD). This year it is observed on January 30, 2022 on the theme ‘United for Dignity’. It should be noted that in India, WLD is celebrated annually as Anti Leprosy day on January 30 i.e. on the death anniversary of the Father of Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi aka Mahatma Gandhi.
- This international day celebrate people who have experienced leprosy or Hansen’s disease, raises awareness of the disease, and call for an end to leprosy-related stigma and discrimination.
The day was established in 1954 by French journalist, writer, and activist, Raoul Follereau for the equal treatment of persons affected by leprosy and to reeducate the public by correcting historical misconceptions surrounding the disease.
i.This year’s theme honor the dignity of people through campaign who have experienced leprosy by the following ways:
- Sharing their empowering stories.
- Advocating for mental wellbeing and the right to a dignified life free from disease-related stigma.
ii.In August 2021, ‘Don’t forget leprosy’ awareness campaign was launched by Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.
iii.As per the data by WHO in September 2021, for the calendar year 2020, there is a decline in new cases of 37% from the previous year.
iv.India has the highest burden of leprosy (57% of new cases) in the world
As of October 2021, leprosy cases on record are 60,077.
- Disability cases caused by leprosy are also continuing to be the highest in India.
About Hansen’s Disease:
It is a chronic infectious disease caused by slow-growing bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae). People who are living with highly advanced leprosy patients for a long time are prone to getting the disease. It is usually for 5 to 7 years and maybe up to 20 years.
- It affects the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosal surface of the upper respiratory tract and eyes.
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In 1955, the Government of India initiated the leprosy control programme which was revised as National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) in 1983 following the introduction of Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) in 1982.