World Leprosy Day takes place on the last Sunday in January, this year it will be on the 29th. The day aims to raise awareness of a disease that many people believe to be extinct, when in fact around 210,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. The last Sunday in January was chosen by French humanitarian Raoul Follereau in 1953, as the third Sunday from Epiphany from the Catholic calendar. The Catholic Church then reads the story of the Gospel where Jesus meets and heals a person with leprosy.

What is leprosy?

Leprosy is an infectious disease of the skin and nerves which, if not diagnosed and treated quickly, can result in debilitating disabilities. The effects of leprosy are exacerbated by the negative stigma surrounding the disease.

In 2015 over 210,000 people were diagnosed and it is estimated that millions more go undiagnosed.

Leprosy manifests in different ways in different people, you can find out more about classifying and treating the disease here.

Today, it is not just the disease that is forgotten, but the people too.

Early detection

The fact that children are still being diagnosed with leprosy shows that the disease is still being transmitted. Last year, in one of the areas we work, Bihar India, over 17% of new leprosy cases were children.

At the moment, too many children have disability at diagnosis. Our aim is that all children will be treated and cured before disability occurs.

Find out more about the diagnosis of leprosy.

Watch Dr SN Pati diagnose the symptoms of leprosy and explain the importance of early detection.

You can find out more about leprosy here

How to get involved for World Leprosy Day

Take the pledge

Pledge your support to help us beat leprosy by our 100th year. Take a look at our Beat Leprosy page to find out how.

Share itTwitter

To help us spread the word that leprosy does indeed exist and affects the lives of millions, give us a tweet, like or share on social media this World Leprosy Day using #WLD2017 or #WorldLeprosyDay.

Inform a friend

We know that you already know that leprosy is still around today and are aware of the work we do to tackle it, but do your friends, children or grandchildren? By simply passing on your knowledge and telling someone why you choose to support us, you’ll be making a big difference.

Don't call me a 'leper'

The term ‘leper’ was once used to describe a person affected by leprosy but, over the years, the word has become associated with anyone who is outcast, seen as a pariah or someone to be avoided. 

We want to reduce this stigma and work towards a world where people know that leprosy is curable and doesn’t have to mean a life of social isolation. So we’re asking you, if you hear it being used in a chat with your friends or in a discussion at work, let that person know that leprosy still exists and ‘leper’ isn’t a correct term to use.

FundraiseWear it loud for Lepra

All the money you raise goes towards improving the lives of those affected by diseases like leprosy and there’s so many ways you can do it. There are book sales and bake sales, concerts and tea parties and you could even get your workplace or local organisation to ‘wear it loud for Lepra.’ Have everyone wear their most colourful outfit, bring in £1 and help put the fun in fundraising.

Head over to our fundraising page for more ideas of how you can get involved.