World Leprosy Eradication Day

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 5, 2022, 11:56

Every year, the last Sunday of January is celebrated as World Leprosy Eradication Day.

The main idea is to raise awareness against stigma and discrimination and make people understand that it is a curable disease.

World Leprosy Eradication Day History

Raoul Follereau, a French philanthropist, conceptualised the idea of a World Leprosy Eradication Day in 1954 to raise awareness about leprosy and educate the public about the importance of leprosy treatment.

The day was chosen as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who had shown extreme compassion for the people afflicted by this disease.

Many individuals worldwide suffer from this treatable condition due to the absence of primary medical treatment and the social stigma related to the disease.

World Leprosy Eradication Day Objectives

The primary Objectives for International Leprosy Eradication Day are:

  • To treat all persons affected by leprosy equally
  • To educate people about the illness and common misunderstandings

About Leprosy Eradication

Norwegian scientist Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen discovered the slow-growing bacteria known as Mycobacterium leprae in 1873 as the cause of leprosy. Due to this, leprosy is also called Hansen's disease.

Leprosy is hard to diagnose in the initial stages as the signs of the condition may take years to appear after the infection. However, antibiotics can quickly cure those who contract the illness.

World Leprosy Eradication Day Significance

Leprosy affects the neurological system and the skin, resulting in depression and degeneration of the skin as per the World Health Organization (WHO).

Furthermore, persons afflicted by leprosy are often subjected to severe emotional stress due to societal attitudes. Resultant solitude, stigma, and discrimination contribute to their unhappiness.

Due to these reasons, World Leprosy Eradication Day is an important event since it educates and sensitises people, so they are not ignorant and do not treat leprosy as a taboo.

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World Leprosy Eradication Day Theme

The theme for International Leprosy Eradication Day 2022 was "United for Dignity".

The theme arises from a desire to make people aware that persons living with leprosy have the right to a life free of shame.

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World Leprosy Eradication Day Celebrations

World Leprosy Eradication Day is celebrated in both leprosy-affected and non-leprosy-affected nations. Churches, nonprofit organisations, and leprosy champions observe the Day in countries where leprosy is either non-existent or very rare to help make people aware of the reality that leprosy still exists and continues to wreck lives.

Communities and persons who are suffering from leprosy celebrate the Day by banding together and organising activities to raise awareness. The gatherings are intended to remove the stigma associated with leprosy and raise awareness against it.

Government officials from concerned departments also participate in different activities to mark the Day.

The International Leprosy Eradication Day was established in 1954. It is celebrated internationally. Governmental and non-governmental organisations use the opportunity to create awareness against the stigma attached to leprosy. Different events and activities are organised to mark the day.

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FAQs on World Leprosy Eradication Day

Q.1. Why do we celebrate World Leprosy Eradication Day?

World Leprosy Eradication Day is observed to increase global awareness of this illness and emphasise that it is preventable, treatable, and curable. India commemorates International Leprosy Eradication day on January 30, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's death.

Q.2. What was the theme for World Leprosy Eradication Day 2021?

"Beat Leprosy, End Stigma, and Advocate for Mental Well-Being" was the theme for World Leprosy Eradication Day 2021.

Q.3. Who chose the date of the World Leprosy Eradication Day?

World Leprosy Eradication Day is observed on the final Sunday of January every year. This date was selected by Raoul Follereau, a French humanitarian, as a homage to Mahatma Gandhi, who worked extensively with leprosy patients and died at the end of January 1948.

Q.4. What was the theme of World Leprosy Eradication Day 2019?

The theme of World Leprosy Eradication Day 2019 was "Ending discrimination, stigma, and prejudice".

Q.5. When was World Leprosy Eradication Day first observed?

The first World Leprosy Eradication Day was observed in In 1954. French humanitarian Raoul Follereau picked the date to align with the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's death on January 30, 1948.