World Leprosy Day is observed every year on the last Sunday of January. It is a day to raise awareness about leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. This year, World Leprosy Day was observed on January 31, 2021. In this article, we will discuss the history and significance of World Leprosy Day, the current state of leprosy around the world, and frequently asked questions about leprosy.
History and Significance of World Leprosy Day
World Leprosy Day was first observed in 1954 by French writer and philanthropist Raoul Follereau, who wanted to draw attention to the plight of people affected by leprosy. Since then, World Leprosy Day has been observed every year on the last Sunday of January.
The main aim of World Leprosy Day is to raise awareness about leprosy and to encourage people to take action to prevent the spread of the disease. It is also a day to show support for people affected by leprosy and to work towards their rehabilitation and integration into society.
Current State of Leprosy around the World
Despite the availability of effective treatments for leprosy, the disease continues to affect people around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 208,619 new cases of leprosy reported globally in 2020.
The majority of new cases were reported in India, which accounted for 57% of the global total. Other countries with a high burden of leprosy include Brazil, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
Leprosy is a curable disease, but it can cause significant physical and social disabilities if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment with multidrug therapy can prevent disability and halt the transmission of the disease.
Frequently Asked Questions about Leprosy
Q: Is leprosy a contagious disease?
A: Yes, leprosy is a contagious disease. It is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Q: How long does it take for leprosy symptoms to appear after infection?
A: The incubation period for leprosy is usually between 2 and 10 years, although it can be as short as a few months or as long as several decades.
Q: Is leprosy treatable?
A: Yes, leprosy is treatable with multidrug therapy. Treatment is usually continued for 6 to 12 months, depending on the severity of the disease.
Q: Can people with leprosy be cured?
A: Yes, people with leprosy can be cured with early diagnosis and treatment. However, leprosy can cause permanent physical and social disabilities if left untreated for a long time.
Q: How can leprosy be prevented?
A: Leprosy can be prevented through early diagnosis and treatment of cases, contact tracing and surveillance of contacts, and health education to promote personal hygiene and prevent the spread of the disease.
World Leprosy Day is an important day to raise awareness about leprosy and to encourage action to prevent the spread of the disease. Although leprosy is a curable disease, it continues to affect people around the world. Early diagnosis and treatment with multidrug therapy can prevent disability and halt the transmission of the disease. Let us all work towards a world free from leprosy.
- World Health Organization. (2021). Leprosy. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/leprosy
- World Health Organization. (2021). Global leprosy update, 2020: moving towards a leprosy-free world. Weekly Epidemiological Record, 96(35), 389-412.
- Raoul Follereau Foundation. (n.d.). World Leprosy Day. Retrieved from https://www.raoul-follereau.org/en/actions/world-leprosy-day/
- Featured Image Source: The Leprosy Mission NI