World Leprosy Day
31 January, 2021
Observed on the last Sunday in January, this day was chosen by French humanitarian Raoul Follereau in 1953 to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi’s death on 30th January 1948 and to raise awareness of a disease that still sees 600 new diagnoses each day and with millions estimated to be undiagnosed and thus forgotten. Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae), an organism that multiplies very slowly and with incubation periods varying from a few months to 30 years. Affecting mainly the skin and peripheral nerves, if left untreated, leprosy can lead to progressive and permanent damage of nerves, loss of sensation and sweating in the extremities and paralysis of hand, feet and face muscle. Fortunately,over 99% of the population has adequate natural immunity, over 85% of the clinical cases are non-infectious and an infectious case is rendered non-infectious quickly and usually after the very first dose of treatment.