WORLD LEPROSY ERADICATION DAY
World Leprosy Eradication Day is held on 30 January every year. The date for World Leprosy Day was chosen to commemorate the assassination of Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi who understood the importance of this disease and worked tirelessly for the cause.
World Leprosy Eradication Day was held for the first time in 1954 by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau. This day aims at building awareness across the world and in the community about the global epidemic leprosy and efforts to eliminate the disease.
Why is World Leprosy Eradication Day important?
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is one of the oldest diseases known to human race. People living with the disease have been stigmatized and marginalized by the society, since ages. The aim of World Leprosy Day is to change this attitude and educate public about the fact that leprosy can now be easily prevented and cured.
What is Leprosy?
Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. It affects the nervous system especially, the nerves located in the cooler parts of the human body including the face, hand and feet.
What are the damages caused by leprosy?
Leprosy can cause damage to the peripheral nerves and nerves in the skin. Following complications may arise:
- Disfiguration of the face
- Blindness or glaucoma
- Erectile dysfunction and infertility in men
- Kidney failure
- Permanent damage to the inside of the nose
- Loss of sweat and oil gland function causing the skin on the hands and feet to become dry and cracked.
- Loss of sensation towards light, touch or pain resulting in serious injuries.
- Loss of strength in the hands and feet, which can lead to paralysis of the small muscles.
Can leprosy be spread by touching someone who is affected?
No, leprosy cannot be spread by merely touching someone. It is also not transmitted through sexual contact or pregnancy. Exposure to poor sanitary conditions for long may contribute to leprosy. Mycobacterium leprae is transmitted largely through coughing and sneezing. This also means that leprosy-affected persons can continue with work without posing risk to the community.
What are the signs of leprosy?
- Spots on the skin that may be a little red, lighter or darker than rest of the skin
- Numbness in the spotted regions
- Hair loss on the affected part of the skin
- Numbness in finger, toe or hand leading to muscle paralysis
- Loss of blinking reflex of the eye
- Deformity may be caused at the last stage of the disease
Can leprosy be treated?
Leprosy is curable with a record of 16 million sufferers being cured in the last two decades. The WHO provides free treatment for all people with leprosy. As recommended by the WHO, leprosy can be treated effectively with Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT).
This World Leprosy Eradication Day, stand in support of those suffering from the disease. Together we can move faster to finish the work that Gandhi could not.
“Leprosy continues to be a disease to be associated with stigma in our country. The patient affected with this disease suffers from rejection, metal agony by their family members and places of work.
In urban areas the number of people, suffering with leprosy is even more compared to rural areas. Efforts must be on to cover all the patients, prevent spread of disease and rehabilitate them to effectively contribute to society.
On this world Leprosy Day, Let us pledge and ensure that the sufferers must get social acceptance and help them getting cured though multi drug regimen, available freely in our country.”, Says Dr. Saibal Chakravorty Senior Consultant Internal Medicine, Metro Hospitals & Heart Institute, Noida Sector-11, UP