The theme for this year’s World Leprosy Day on 28th January was ensuring that no child should be left with disabilities by leprosy. We marked the day with a range of events that included the involvement of politicians and society leaders, as well as practical screening for new cases.

Our team in India organised a three kilometre walk in Secunderabad and over 1,500 people took part in the walk to raise awareness of leprosy. They included students, medical professionals, scouts and guides and members of our staff and governing body. Amongst the walkers were over 400 people who have been affected by leprosy, actor Sesh Adivi and the chief guest, the head of the local military hospital.

Pictured: Our team in India in the walk

Dr V. Rukmini Rao who chairs our team in India’s management committee explained that Lepra is pledged to end deformities in children. Other speakers included two students whose parents were affected by leprosy and who have been supported by Lepra during their education.

Bangladesh saw rallies arranged with the local health departments in a number of areas to raise awareness of leprosy. In Dinajpur a seminar was held where the Civil Surgeon told the 150 attendees about the importance of early detection in preventing children becoming disabled. In the Dinajpur district there was also screening for leprosy carried out in local villages. Sixty-eight people were identified as possibly being affected of whom 11 were confirmed as having leprosy.

There were rallies in the Sirajganj area followed by meetings at three district centres. Special t-shirts were distributed to rickshaw pullers and others. Across Bangladesh thousands of people heard Lepra’s messages.
In the UK, Victoria Hislop the author and Lepra ambassador, gave a number of radio interviews to raise awareness of World Leprosy Day. They included BBC Radio London and BBC Radio Scotland. Other well-known supporters including Tony Robinson, Jamie Chadwick and Stuart Miles tweeted their support.

We also held a very successful meeting in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Gadhia. It was attended by a diverse and multicultural audience that included senior parliamentarians, leaders from major faiths as well as government officials, aid and health experts.

World Leprosy Day is an important occasion to remind people that leprosy has not gone away. We are grateful for the support of all those involved in the day and the important work they have done to ensure that leprosy is not forgotten.

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