World Leprosy Eradication Day

World Leprosy Eradication Day

World Leprosy Eradication Day is observed on the last Sunday of January every year to raise awareness of Leprosy or Hansen’s Disease, including the medical and social implications of the disease and the rights of persons affected. In India, the day is chosen on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

World Leprosy Eradication Day is observed globally on last Sunday and in 2024 it will fall on 28th January, while in India it is marked on January 30 (M K Gandhi’s death anniversary).

This particular day was actually chosen to commemorate the death of Indian leader, M K Gandhi, who understood the importance of this disease. Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases recorded in the world.

The theme of World Leprosy Day 2023 is “Beat Leprosy”.

The theme calls for –

  1. Elimination is possible: We have the power and tools to stop transmission and defeat this disease.
  2. Act now: We need the resources and commitment to end leprosy. Prioritize leprosy elimination.
  3. Reach the unreached: Leprosy is preventable and treatable. Suffering from leprosy is needless.

What is Leprosy

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae (M. laprae). Leprosy is known to humanity for over 5000 years. Also known as Hansen disease-after the discovery of the causative organism by Hansen. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and also the eyes. Leprosy, if not diagnosed and treated quickly, can result in debilitating disabilities. There are still people who lack awareness regarding the signs and symptoms of the disease and therefore have a high potential to spread the ailment.

This disease is widespread among those living in endemic areas under deplorable conditions such as unhygienic bedding, contaminated water, unclean food, or other diseases that have a bearing on the immunity system.

Leprosy Early Symptoms and Signs:

There are several signs and symptoms of leprosy including;

  • Numbness or tingling in hand or feet
  • Loss of temperature sensation
  • Reduction in touch sensation
  • Needles and pins sensations
  • Joint pain
  • Nerve injury
  • Weight loss
  • Ulcers
  • Skin Lesions
  • Hair loss

National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP)

The National Leprosy Control Programme was launched by the Government of India in 1955, after the introduction of Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) in 1982, the program was converted into National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) in the year 1983 with the objective of achieving eradication of the disease from the country. The National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP), supported by the WHO and International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations International Leaders in Education Programme, monitors the cases and works towards eliminating the disease.

NLEP is a health scheme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. While it is planned at and sponsored by the Centre, the implementation is done by the states and union territories. Treatment of leprosy is available free of cost at all government dispensaries in India.

Early case detection and treatment is the key to achieving elimination as detection of leprosy cases early in the community will lead to a reduction of sources of infection in the community and also interrupt the transmission of the disease.

How it is Observed

Social media campaigns, community parades, school programming, and cultural events are held around the world in the weeks leading up to World Leprosy Day. Since a lot of people do not know about the disease, the significance of the day is to spread awareness regarding it through social media platforms. This day is meant to help people living with the disease to understand that it is in fact a curable disease and to know that other people care about them.

Social groups are educated on the importance of extending a helping hand to people suffering from the disease. This is the day when people around the world make contributions to raise money for assisting people living with leprosy. Non-governmental organizations and social groups are encouraged to make contributions being one of the main fundraisers for assisting people with the disease.

Spread the word in your social media using Hashtag #United4Dignity #EndStigma #MentalWellbeing #BeatLeprosy.

Suggested Read: Important Days In January

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.