January 22nd marks the celebration of World Leprosy Day.
January 22nd marks the celebration of World Leprosy Day. Typically celebrated on the last Sunday of January, World Leprosy Day began observation in 1954 and has since grown into a global affair. Supported by the World Health Organization, its main mission is to help raise awareness for those who are still experiencing this disease and a call to end leprosy-related discrimination. In both sharing stories of individuals who have experienced leprosy and advocating for the mental wellbeing of those who still experience leprosy. Approximately 127000 new cases have been detected, but with some advocacy and support, this number can decline. Here are some ways you can help celebrate this international day.
1. Educate yourself on leprosy
Understanding first understanding the prevalence of leprosy is the first step to making sure you make the most out of this health observance. Leprosy is caused by the bacteria strain Mycobacterium leprae. It can impact nerves, eyes, lining of the nose, and skin. With early detection and treatment, the disease is curable. In the US, there are only about 250 cases each year. Although leprosy doesn’t spread as easily over here, it is still possible to get it if you come in contact with someone who has it.
2. Know the symptoms
The main reason as to why leprosy continues to be a prevalent issue globally is due to how undetectable many of the signs are. This leads to late diagnosis and a difficult time getting treatment. As of right now, there are no vaccines to prevent leprosy, but the World Health Organization has developed guidelines for treatment based on a three-drug regimen. Symptoms of leprosy include discolored skin patches, nodules on the skin, painless ulcers on feet soles, swelling of the face and earlobes, and/or loss of eyebrows and eyelashes. If diagnosis is done at the early onset of symptoms, it is easily treatable and cured.
3. Destigmatize leprosy
The biggest issue surrounding leprosy today is the stigma that follows the illness. For as long as it’s been around, leprosy has been treated in a very negative light, yet this same attitude has been projected onto the people infected by it. This leaves many individuals ostracized by their communities due to the beliefs that leprosy leaves people disfigured and diseased. With the induction of medical solutions to help combat leprosy, it is also important to change the social narrative around the disease In treating those who have had/have leprosy with respect and kindness, you can help shift the narrative.
4. Donate to leprosy charities
If you have the means to, there are a multitude of charities out there that specialize in providing leprosy treatment to individuals that live in countries where the disease is prevalent. Many of these organizations offer different types of donations that you endorse, so check out leprosy charities and see what you can do to make a difference.
To learn more about leprosy and what you can do to help put a stop to it once and for all, visit https://leprosy.org/