What is World Leprosy Day?

world leprosy day - banner with headline 'world leprosy day' and a purple ribbon

The 30th of January marks World Leprosy Day, which was established in 1954 and is a day to raise awareness about leprosy. Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s disease and is thought to be extinct by many people. However, this disease still affects over 3 million people all over the world with a numerous amount suffering with undiagnosed leprosy. According to Lepra, “today, 600 people will be diagnosed with leprosy; 50 of those will be children.” So, if you want to know more about this day and how to help, make sure you read on!

What is leprosy?

If you don’t know much about leprosy, it’s good to note that leprosy is a disease that targets the body’s nervous system. This disease is infectious and is caused by a certain type of bacteria. It will usually affect your hands, feet, face and any part of your body that has nerves. Since this is a long-term bacterial infection, it can end up causing damage not just to your nerves, but to your skin, eyes and respiratory tract too. This damage can be permanent and irreparable.

However, leprosy can be cured nowadays with multidrug therapy as long as it has been detected and treated early. Although leprosy is rare in developed countries, it usually affects countries such as India, Brazil and Indonesia. People with this disease are usually discriminated against and ostracised from society.

What is leprosy like?

The individual with leprosy will usually lose sensation in the areas affected. This can result in failing to notice untreated injuries or wounds and can lead to loss of limbs. Other symptoms of leprosy include muscle weakness and bad eyesight.

Why is World Leprosy Day important?

It helps stop discrimination

As mentioned, people with the disease are usually discriminated against. By helping to spread awareness, you’re eliminating this and allowing those suffering with leprosy to be treated with respect.

You’re helping spread awareness about treatment

Not a lot of people know about leprosy and some even wonder whether it exists. If you help to spread awareness, people will have better understanding in terms of treatment and how common the disease is in underdeveloped countries.

You can bust the myths

Since not many people know about leprosy, they have certain misconceptions about the disease. One of these misconceptions is how the disease is passed on; a lot of people think this can happen by simply sitting next to someone with leprosy or shaking their hand. However, this is not the case and World Leprosy Day aims to bust these myths!

What you can do to help

To end the discrimination, Lepra has created the theme United for Dignity for this year’s World Leprosy Day. To show your support, make sure you head over to Lepra’s ‘United for Dignity’ online message board and write your own supportive message! Other ways to support include downloading Lepra’s fundraising guide or volunteering to help the cause.


This is everything you need to know about World Leprosy Day, which hopefully gives you a better understanding about the disease. If you want to help Lepra spread awareness, make sure you head over to their donation page!

To support other causes, have a browse through our charities from our directory here.

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