About World Leprosy Day
World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday in January.
The day was chosen by French humanitarian Raoul Follereau in 1953 to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's death on 30th January 1948. During his life, Mahatma Gandhi showed great compassion for people afflicted with leprosy.
World Leprosy Day raises awareness of a disease that many people believe to be extinct. Today it is not just the disease that is forgotten, but the people too.
Everyday nearly 600 more people are diagnosed with and start treatment for leprosy, also known as Hansen's Disease. In 2014, 213 899 people were diagnosed and it is estimated that millions more go undiagnosed.
Symptoms may occur within one year but can also take as long as 20 years or even more to occur.
Clinical signs are easy to observe. Skin lesion has usually a different pigmentation than the surrounding normal skin (less pigmented, reddish or copper-coloured) and may have various aspects (flat, raised or nodules). Skin lesion can be single or multiple and may show a loss of sensation in the skin.
Skin smears are also used to diagnose leprosy.
Leprosy is curable with a combination of drugs known as multidrug therapy, as the treatment of leprosy with only one antileprosy drug (monotherapy) will result in development of drug resistance to that drug. The combination of drugs used in the MDT depends on the classification of the disease (paucibacillary or multibacillary leprosy).