World Leprosy Day is celebrated globally on January’s last Sunday every year. Organisations of people suffering from this disease and NGOs organised this day, including The Leprosy Mission. This provides leprosy patients with a chance at remarkable representation.
The first World Leprosy Day was celebrated in 1954 by the French humanitarian Raoul Follereau. He did so to honour Mahatma Gandhi, who had compassion for people afflicted with leprosy and made people know about this ancient disease. Therefore, India celebrates on 30th January every year, which is the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
This article will discuss World Leprosy Day in the context of the IAS Exam.
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World Leprosy Day 2022
‘United for Dignity’ is the main theme of 2022. The campaign applauded the real-life experiences of leprosy patients.
The campaign did so by letting these patients:
1) Speak about their stories of overcoming leprosy
2) Promoting mental well-being and access to a respectable life without leprosy-related stigma.
The previous year, the theme of World Leprosy Day 2021 was ‘Beat Leprosy, End Stigma, and Advocate for Mental Well-being.’
The Key Points
- We can raise our voices together and applaud the stories of people who have overcome or are suffering from this disease.
- Individuals who had leprosy experience mental health issues due to discrimination, isolation, and stigma.
- People who faced it rightfully deserve a noble life without this disease-related discrimination and stigma.
Why celebrate World Leprosy Day?
- We rejoice in the day to spread awareness about a disease that everyone thinks has become non-existent.
- Every year, 100,000-200,000 people get a diagnosis of leprosy, and millions live with the tragic consequences of slowed leprosy cure.
- This day celebrates the lives of victims of this disease, spreads awareness of the symptoms and signs of leprosy, and aims to destigmatise this condition. It also provides an opportunity to collect funds to help curb the transmission of this disease.
- NGOs, Churches, and leprosy survivors, aiming to increase awareness that this disease is still prevalent and is still ruining lives, celebrate the day in the countries where this is either non-existent or very rare.
- In countries where the disease still lasts, people and communities infected by leprosy unite to spread awareness and organise events focussing on destigmatising leprosy. There is also a good arrangement from governments in many countries by marking the day via events and ministers.
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Details to Spread Awareness This World Leprosy Day
- This disease is treatable through Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT), which constitutes a combination of medications. Patients across the world can access this treatment free of cost. However, if not completely cured, leprosy can take a fatal turn.
- Leprosy is one of the longest existing diseases in humanity, around four thousand years old. Contrary to popular belief, this disease is still prevalent, with 2 lakh diagnosed victims every year across Asia, South America, and Africa.
What Are the Symptoms of Leprosy?
Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) is a contagious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae that includes the skin and peripheral nerves. The disease mainly infects the upper respiratory tract’s peripheral nerves, skin, eyes, and mucosa.
As a result, patients may witness:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of feeling in the arms and legs
In addition, insensibility in palms and soles can cause accidental injuries and burns, leading to loss of digits. This can cause defacement in patients. It can also infect the eyes and ultimately lead to blindness.
How Does It Spread through One Person to Another?
- The bacteria that cause this disease spreads through small droplets from affected people’s mouths and noses. It is important to understand that the bacteria are not spread by natural contact with an affected person, like hugging, shaking hands, or sitting next to them at a table during a meal or a bus during travel. Individuals can get an infection only if they come into close and frequent contact with mouth and nose droplets from someone with untreated leprosy.
- Additionally, leprosy cannot transfer to unborn children from a pregnant woman, making it non-hereditary. It is also not circulated through sexual contact. Latest researches also show that there might be a possibility of transmission through insects.
- According to WHO’s Global Leprosy Report, this affects both genders. However, in most parts of this world, males are infected more regularly than females, often in the ratio of 2:1.
- The existing number of leprosy patients is a significant reminder of the importance of World Leprosy Day.
The above details on this day will hopefully help individuals preparing for these exams gain thorough knowledge.
There are other Important days and dates of national and international importance, integral from the UPSC prelims and other government exams.
Frequently Asked Questions about World Leprosy Day
Which food items should a leprosy patient consume?
The patient should take high nutritious foods like fish, meat, fruits, eggs, vegetables and milk products.
Can leprosy be painful?
If left untreated, leprosy can cause long-term damage to the nerves in the toes, fingers, feet and hands. This may affect the ability to feel temperature and pain in those areas of the body.
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