The last Sunday of January 2022, is a day for chronic infectious disease sufferers. Yes, it is World Leprosy Day. Celebrate every last Sunday of January, World Health Organization (WHO) said that, this international day is an opportunity to celebrate people who have experienced leprosy, raise awareness of the disease, and call for an end to leprosy-related stigma and discrimination, quoted from WHO’s the official website.
Quoted from leprosy-information.org, In 1954, this international celebration is established by French journalist and activist, Raoul Follereau, with two goals, such as to advocate for the equal treatment of persons affected by leprosy, and to reeducate the public about leprosy by correcting historical misconceptions surrounding the disease.
Quoted from WHO, Follereau choose that time to commemorate to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death on 30th January 1948. It is also said that many people believe that this disease is extinct, even today, it is not just the disease that is forgotten, but the people too.
A Brief Description of Leprosy
Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s disease. Quoted from WHO, it is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, and the disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes. The disease may be suffered by all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age. However, Leprosy is curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability, but it is likely transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.
According to WHO, in the celebration of World Leprosy Day, there are three key messages to be delivered in this campaign, such as:
Together we can lift every voice and honor the experiences of people who have experienced leprosy.
People who experience leprosy face mental wellbeing challenges due to stigma, discrimination, and isolation.
People who experience leprosy have the right to a dignified life free from disease-related stigma and discrimination.
According to leprosy-information.org, the theme of World Leprosy Day 2022 is “United for Dignity”. This theme is set for everyone to know that people who experience leprosy have the right to a dignified life free from disease-related stigma and discrimination. Therefore, this day is a chance to honor the lived experiences of people who have experienced leprosy by sharing their empowering stories and by advocating for the mental wellbeing of people who experience leprosy and other neglected tropical diseases.
The hashtag #WorldLeprosyDay and #United4Dignity on any social media will lift every voice and honor those who have experienced leprosy. Through Twibbonize, the international community is also ready to advocates for the rights of people affected by leprosy and joins to combat the medical and social implications of leprosy, as there are various frames created and shared as below:
The “United for Dignity” is also a campaign that calls for unity in honoring the dignity of people who have experienced leprosy. There are various ways to participate in this campaign, such as sharing the empowering stories as a leprosy survivor and advocating for mental wellbeing and the right to a dignified life free from disease-related stigma.
Let’s support those Twibbonize frames of the World Leprosy Day as said by WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, Yohei Sasakawa, that “we are the only creatures on Earth that have been given the ability to reason. Let us use our reason to confront the stigma that persons affected by leprosy face, cure society of the disease of discrimination, and stop repeating the mistakes of the past.”