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November 13, 2019

Help to those living with physical deformities

World Leprosy Day is held on the last Sunday in January each year. The particular day is to commemorate the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on January 30. The day was initiated in 1954 by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau, as a mean to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that leprosy is preventable and curable.
The Indian freedom fighter, during his lifetime, worked tirelessly towards the betterment of people affected with leprosy, one of the oldest diseases known to humankind. Gandhi once said, “Eliminating leprosy is the only work I have not been able to complete in my lifetime.”
Leprosy is a chronic disease affecting the nerves and the skin. If not properly treated, sufferers can become blind, lose the sensations in their hands and feet; and become prone to a disability through the threat of injury. People with leprosy are often bullied and rejected by the people around them. They might not be allowed to go to school or to work or even marry; they become outcasts even in their families.
According to the official statistics of World Health Organization collected from 115 countries, the global registered prevalence of leprosy at the end of 2012 was 189, 018 cases. The number of new cases reported globally in 2012 was 232, 857 compared with 226, 626 in 2011.
The global statistics show that 220, 810 (95 percent) of new leprosy cases were reported from 16 countries and only 5 percent of new cases are from the rest of the world. WHO has distributed Multidrug therapy (MDT) treatments free of charge to all leprosy-affected people worldwide since 1995, initially through the drug fund provided by the Nippon Foundation since 2000, through the MDT donation provided by Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development.
MDT consists of 3 drugs: dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine and this drug combination kills the pathogen and effectively cured close to 16 million leprosy patients the patient over 20 years. Empowerment of people affected by the disease, together with their greater involvement in services and community, will bring us closer to a world without leprosy. Meanwhile, sustained and committed efforts from national and international partners play a key role to a decline in the global burden of leprosy.

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