World Leprosy Day 2020
World Leprosy Day falls on the last Sunday of January each year and aims to highlight the fact that this disease is still prevalent for those living in poverty in 23 countries worldwide.
Leprosy (also called Hansen’s disease) affects around 180,000 new people every year and, although curable with antibiotics, treatment often comes too late for many, leaving them with debilitating injuries to the eyes and limbs. Leprosy sufferers are also often affected by substantial stigma, and it is not uncommon for sufferers to be ostracised or discriminated against by society, even after they have been cured. There are 108 discriminatory laws against leprosy sufferers in India alone.
There is no vaccine for leprosy, so leprosy is one of the four neglected pathogens that VALIDATE researchers are working on, to accelerate the development of an effective vaccine and save lives and livelihoods.
You can find out more about leprosy, its causes and symptoms, as well as information about the leprosy research being carried out by two of our VALIDATE members here.
World Leprosy Day is celebrated around the world, and here are just some of the news and views raised this year:
- World Leprosy Day message by WHO, ‘Leprosy is not a disease of the past. It is an ongoing issue.’
- The UN discusses the discrimination against women and children affected by leprosy
- The Inter Press Service discusses the re-emergence of leprosy as a global health challenge and the stigma sufferers often face
- The Leprosy Mission discuss how you can add your voice in support of World Leprosy Day this Sunday
- ILEP (the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations) held a Q&A with Mathias Duck, a Paraguayan Pastor who was diagnosed with leprosy and completed treatment, about his experience and the misconceptions and stigma that surround leprosy
- ILEP also chatted to Alice Cruz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against people affected by leprosy
- Devex discuss how leprosy lives on in Nigeria, 20 years after its ‘elimination’. ‘“There is a huge risk of resurgence because leprosy is infectious and the effort to fight it has not been sustained,” said Dr. Sunday Udo, director of the Leprosy Mission Nigeria.’
- The Pulitzer Center discuss leprosy in Brazil and the scientists coming together to tackle it
- Lepra and photographer Tom Bradley have worked together to highlight stories and images of people living with leprosy
- The Leprosy Mission has outlined actions governments can take to make a difference in the fight against leprosy
- Lepra are holding a couple of events in London to raise awareness of leprosy, and have produced a special podcast ‘leprosy is not what you think’, aiming to dispel preconceptions about leprosy sufferers
- The CDC busts eight commons myths about leprosy
- Ann Aerts of Novartis discusses their LPEP case-tracing and treatment programme and the impact this had on leprosy case numbers in the eight study countries
Much is being done around the world to tackle leprosy, but we need to do much more to be able to reach the SDG goal #3, to end the epidemic of neglected tropical diseases (of which leprosy is just one of 17), by 2030.