#WorldLeprosyDay; #FrenchHumanitarianRaoulFollereau; #Discrimination; #DeathAnniversaryOfMahatmaGandhi
Geneva, Jan 26 (Canadian-Media): World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday in January which this year falls on 26th January 2020, media reports said.
Leprosy patient. Image credit: Twitter
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.
The observance of this day was started by French humanitarian Raoul Follereau in 1953 to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death on 30th January 1948.
Many women and children affected by leprosy – also known as Hansen’s disease – have been the victims of stereotypes, physical and verbal abuse, delays of diagnosis and lack of adequate care, regretted Alice Cruz, the first UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, appointed in November 2017 by the Human Rights Council.
Although Cruz welcomed improvements in the response of some Governments, including in awareness-raising activities, campaigns to improve detection and early diagnosis, and access to treatment, Cruz nevertheless regretted that many States with high incidence rate have discriminatory laws. She said leprosy-affected women and children should be included in the decision-making processes impacting their lives.
Despite the progress of science and the fact that leprosy can be treated with drugs, just like other diseases, the existence of discrimination caused many to go untreated, said Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination in a message on the occasion of World Leprosy Day 26 January 2020.
"We have not only to fight the disease, but also the prejudice and discrimination that have infected society...all of us need to have a correct understanding of leprosy and compassion toward those with the disease... On this World Leprosy Day, I would like to join together with as many people as possible in thinking what we can do to make a difference to the lives of persons affected by leprosy. Let’s make today a new beginning. Let’s do our best together." he said