World Leprosy Day 2022: Know about Date, Theme, History, Significance, Celebration, and Key Facts here

World Leprosy Day 2022: It is observed on the last Sunday of January annually. This year it falls on 30 January. Let us have a look at the current theme, history, significance of World Leprosy Day, and about Leprosy here.
Created On: Jan 30, 2022 04:30 IST
Modified On: Jan 30, 2022 04:31 IST
World Leprosy Day
World Leprosy Day

World Leprosy Day 2022: It is celebrated on the last Sunday of January to spread awareness about leprosy disease, and call for an end to leprosy-related stigma and discrimination. This year, it falls on 30 January. Leprosy is also known as Hansen's disease. 

The day is organised by organisations of people affected by leprosy and leprosy-focused organisations, like The Leprosy Mission, and also provides an opportunity to lift up the voices of people affected by leprosy across the world.

World Leprosy Day 2022: Theme

The theme of World Leprosy Day 2022 is "United for Dignity”. The theme focuses on unity in honouring the dignity of people who have experienced leprosy. Also, it honours the lived experiences of individuals who have experienced leprosy by sharing their empowering stories and by advocating for mental wellbeing. They also have a right to a dignified life that is free from disease-related stigma.

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World Leprosy Day 2022: History

World Leprosy Day was established in 1954 by French philanthropist Raoul Follereau. The main objective was to raise awareness about leprosy disease and to teach people about this ancient disease that is now easily curable. Various people across the world are not aware of the disease, lack of access to basic medical care, and continued stigma surrounding the illness.

The two goals while creating World Leprosy Day were: Persons affected by leprosy should get equal treatment and the second was to reeducate people about leprosy disease by correcting historical misconceptions surrounding the disease.

Why is World Leprosy Day celebrated?

The main objective behind celebrating the day is to spread awareness about the disease that various people think does not exist anymore. 

Every year there are around 200,000 people diagnosed with leprosy and millions are there who are living with the damaging consequences of delayed leprosy treatment. Not only this, but the day also provides an opportunity to celebrate the lives of those affected, raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of the disease, and also tackle the stigma that too surrounds leprosy.

World Leprosy Day 2022: How is it celebrated?

It is observed in both countries that are with or without leprosy. It is said that in countries where leprosy is either non-existent or very rare, World Leprosy Day is marked by churches, NGOs, and leprosy champions who help in spreading awareness about the fact that leprosy still exists and it is still ruining lives.

In countries where leprosy still exists, celebration takes place by communities and people affected by the disease leprosy. They come together to spread awareness and host events. The aim of the events is to reduce leprosy stigma and spread awareness of the disease. In various countries, governments also participate, celebrate, and raise awareness.

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease and is caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. It multiplies slowly and the incubation period of the disease is 5 years on average. Within one-year symptoms may occur but can also take place as long as 20 years or even more. 

The disease can affect the skin, the peripheral nerves, the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes. Leprosy disease is curable with the help of multidrug therapy.

How is Leprosy disease transmitted?

It is transmitted through droplets from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contact with untreated cases. Leprosy which is not treated can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes.

Signs and Symptoms of Leprosy

- People who are dark-skinned might have light patches on the skin and pale-skinned people may have darker or reddish patches. 

- Loss or decrease of sensation in the skin patches.

- Numbness or tingling in hand or feet

- Weakness of hands, feet, or eyelids

- Painful nerves

- Swelling or lumps in the face or earlobes

- Painless wounds or burns on hands or feet.

Some Key Facts

According to WHO, 

- As per the official figures, in 2020, around 127558 new cases of leprosy are detected globally from 139 countries from the 6 WHO Regions. This includes around 8629 children below 15 years. 

- The detection of new cases is among the child population and was recorded at 4.4 million child population.

- From new cases, about 7198 new cases were detected with grade2 disabilities. The new G2D rate was recorded at 0.9 million population.

- The prevalence was around 129389 cases on treatment at the end of the year 2020 and the prevalence rate corresponds to 16.7 per million population.

- The Leprosy disease was renamed Hansen's disease after Norwegian scientist Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, discovered the slow-growing bacterium now known as Mycobacterium leprae in 1873 as the main cause of illness. 

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