World Leprosy Day takes place on the last Sunday in January, this year it will be on the 31st. The day aims to raise awareness of a disease that many people believe to be extinct. 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.

Everyday nearly 600 more people are diagnosed and start treatment for leprosy. In 2014, 213,899 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 14% 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 our more about leprosy here

Lives changed

You can read about some of the children's lives we've managed to change through detection, diagnosis , disability management and reconstructive surgery:

Huma's story

Kajal's story

Samapravin's story

Sibbu's story

Beat Leprosy

You can join our fight to #BeatLeprosy, by donating £12 a month you could help us run health education campaigns in six schools every year.


You could also help us by pledging your support to #BeatLeprosy:

I pledge to #BeatLeprosy

World Leprosy Day partner: The European Medical Journal

The European Medical Journal is an independent company that annually produces a collection of open-access medical eJournals covering therapeutic areas such as Dermatology, Oncology, Rheumatology, Respiratory, Gastroenterology, and Cardiology. By combining editorials from key opinion leaders with concise news coverage from the leading congresses within the medical industry, it aims to deliver first-class insight into ground-breaking changes and advances in medicine. The production of its high-quality, peer-reviewed eJournals, and its collaborations with independent clinical bodies result in a dynamic and contemporary tool with which to assist industry professionals across Europe in progressively developing their performance and efficacy.