Leprosy which is also known as Hansen’s disease causes severe and painful disfiguration of the afflicted’s body. However, for World Leprosy Day 2020, WHO has taken up the theme ‘Leprosy isn’t what you think’. More important than eradicating the ailment, it is important to eradicate the wrong notions attached to it.
World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday in January. The day was chosen by French humanitarian Raoul Follereau in 1953 to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi’s death on 30th January 1948.
World Leprosy Day was celebrated on January 26 this year to create awareness about the disease and fight the misinformation attached to it. WHO representatives say that because of these myths and half-truths surrounding leprosy, the life of the patients become increasingly difficult.
WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, Yohei Sasakawa reportedly issued a statement for World Leprosy Day 2020. He said that people affected by leprosy are often abandoned and isolated by their families and society. Leprosy is an easily curable disease today and the drugs are distributed by WHO free of cost. Early detection and treatment also help to prevent the disability that the disease is said to cause.
Sasakawa also says that is not only important to fight the disease. The prejudice and discrimination attached along with it should also fight against. Every country in the world has netizens affected by leprosy. But because of society’s rejection they avoid going to clinics for treatment. He added that ‘Leprosy is not a disease of the past. It is an ongoing issue’.
For World Leprosy Day 2020, WHO has shared many messages and stories on social media and asked netizens to share it if they come across these. This will help spread awareness about leprosy and put an end to the misconceptions attached to it. Hence, the theme adopted for World Leprosy Day 2020 is to spread awareness through social media.
What is Leprosy’
Leprosy is an infectious skin and nerve disease which can cause debilitating disabilities. Often it also leads to clinical depression as reported by WHO. However, early diagnosis and treatment can cure this ailment. Despite the efforts of various governmental as well as non-governmental organisations, children are being affected by leprosy. This indicates that far from being eradicated, leprosy is still being transmitted.
In countries like India and Bangladesh, people are subjected to discrimination and social exclusion simply because they are, or have previously been, affected by leprosy. In India there are still 17 laws which discriminate against people with this disease.
Everyday nearly 600 more people are diagnosed with and start treatment for leprosy. In 2014, 213,899 people were diagnosed and it is estimated that millions more go undiagnosed.
World Leprosy Day raises awareness of a disease that many people believe to be extinct. Today it is not just the disease that is forgotten, but the people too.