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World Leprosy Day

Written by Dr Sunder Rao Bethapudy


For more than 50 years, on the last Sunday of January, thousands of people across the globe have stopped to remember those who suffer the horrendous effects of leprosy.

Leprosy a mildly infectious, easily cured disease that is associated with poverty. Those who are affected by leprosy are marginalised in society, denied the most basic  of human rights, and the target of discriminatory legislation in many countries.

World Leprosy Day was started in 1954 by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau, to raide  awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured.

Generally believed to be the world's oldest disease, leprosy is also one of the world's most stigmatised. The word leper is abusive, robs people of their dignity and increases discrimination. The day was chosen by Raoul Follereau in 1953 to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi’s assassination on 30th January 1948.

Fear and misunderstandings stilll surround leprosy, such as the disease being a curse for some alleged misdeed, are widespread in some cultures. In turn they fuel a vicious circle that begins with those affected hiding the first suspect skin patches in order to avoid being shunned by their families and becoming a social outcast.

In India there are currently 17 laws which discriminate against people with leprosy. These include being prevented from running in elections and leprosy being grounds for divorce. Fear and discrimination of leprosy stem from a lack of education about the disease.

On Sunday 25th January, join us to change the lives of people affected by disease, poverty and prejudice.

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World Leprosy Day 2015

On World Leprosy Day 2015

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