The Anti Leprosy Day is celebrated worldwide as the World Leprosy Day every last Sunday of January each year. In India, this special day is celebrated every 30th of January in order to also commemorate the death of Mahatma Gandhi who was assassinated during this same day in the year 1948. This event aims to raise awareness about leprosy which is also known as Hansen’s disease. It is a highly contagious infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. The day was chosen by Raoul Follereau, a French humanitarian, to give tribute to the life of Gandhi who was dedicated to helping people with leprosy.
About the Anti Leprosy Day
Leprosy is one of the oldest known diseases to humans. It is also called Hansen’s disease, termed after the discoverer of M. leprae named G. H. A. Hansen. He was able to debunk the theory that leprosy was a hereditary disease. He showed that the disease was caused by a bacterium and not by genetics. For thousands of years, people with leprosy suffered social stigma and were left out of society. For this reason, World Leprosy Day was established in 1954 to make people aware of the facts on the disease.
The Anti Leprosy Day aims to put an end to the stigma and discrimination against people with leprosy. On a global scale, various events and activities are focused on increasing public awareness about the disease. The same activities are done in India but this time, there is also an emphasis on Mahatma Gandhi who was compassionate to people suffering from leprosy.
The worldwide celebration of the Anti-Leprosy Day was founded by Raoul Follereau. He chose the date of the last Sunday of January since it was the third Sunday from Epiphany in the Catholic Calendar. This is the date when the catholic church reads the gospel about Jesus Christ meeting and healing a person suffering from leprosy.
In India, the Anti Leprosy Day is celebrated every 30th of January each year. This date was chosen to coincide with the day when Gandhi passed away after being assassinated in 1948. Gandhi was one of the few leaders who worked tirelessly to support and help people with leprosy.
The following are the dates of celebration of the Anti-Leprosy Day on a worldwide scale:
- 2015 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 25
- 2016 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 24
- 2017 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 29
- 2018 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 28
- 2020 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 27
- 2020 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 26
- 2021 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 24
- 2022 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 23
- 2023 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 22
- 2024 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 28
- 2025 Anti-Leprosy Day: Sunday, January 26
On the other hand, Anti-Leprosy Day in India is celebrated every 30th of January each year, regardless of which day of the week it is.
The following are the main reasons why you should participate in the celebration of Anti-Leprosy Day:
To Become Informed About Leprosy
One reason why you should celebrate this day is that this is the time for you to become informed about leprosy if you still aren’t knowledgeable about it. The various activities conducted during this day aim to make people informed about the disease including its signs, symptoms, transmission, causes, etc.
To End the Stigma on Leprosy
Also, a good reason to celebrate this day is that you can help end the stigma on leprosy. For so long, leprosy patients have suffered from marginalization from the public due to their disease. But it is time to end this stigma and make people aware of the facts on leprosy.
To Help People with Leprosy
You should also celebrate this day for you to be able to help people with leprosy not only emotionally but also financially. You may be able to lend some help, perhaps in the form of cash, to help those people afflicted with this disease.
Celebration Ideas and Activities
The following are the best things to do to make your celebration of the Anti-Leprosy Day as best as it can be:
Raise Awareness About Leprosy
One good way to celebrate this day is to raise awareness about leprosy. As implied above, there are still a lot of people who do not know the disease well. Because of this, misconceptions about the disease arise. This further leads to the stigma about leprosy. Hence, you can celebrate this day in the best way by making people aware of the facts on this disease. You can do that by joining advocacy campaigns and rallies.
Donate for Leprosy Patients
You can also celebrate this day by donating cash for leprosy patients. There are afflicted patients who cannot afford their medical expenses to get treated from this disease. Donating to them could be life-changing for them.
On Social Media
You can also take your celebration of this day on social media. You can, for instance, use the hashtag #AntiLeprosyDay to let your friends and followers know that you are also participating in the celebration of this important day.
The following are some interesting facts about leprosy that are worth sharing during the Anti-Leprosy Day:
- In 2005, India officially declared that leprosy is no longer a public health threat. However, the latest estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that the country still accounts for 60 percent of new cases of leprosy detected in 2017 – 1.26 lakh out of 2.10 lakh cases worldwide.
- According to a recent report by the National Leprosy Elimination Program, children account for about 8.7 percent of the leprosy cases reported in India.
- As of March 2018, Bihar had the highest leprosy cases with 14,338 afflicted individuals. This is followed by Uttar Pradesh (12,583), Maharashtra (9,836), West Bengal (9,175) and Chhattisgarh (6,499).
- Apart from India, the Southeast Asia region, Brazil, sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific report a significant number of leprosy cases.
- Leprosy is curable with MDT (multi drug therapy) and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability. The disease is not hereditary- leprosy does not transmit from parents to children. It is believed that leprosy spreads through contact with the mucosal secretions of an infected person. However, close and frequent contact with an untreated person for a longer period of time can cause you to contract the disease.