World Leprosy Day takes place on the last Sunday in January. In 2019 this will be 27th January and this year we are calling for governments and authorities to dedicate more resources to leprosy research to support this vastly under-funded area.

Across the globe, leprosy charities and partners join together to raise awareness of this disease that many people believe to be extinct, when in fact around 210,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and we believe millions more people are living undiagnosed, leaving them at risk of disabilities.

How is the date decided?

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.

Join us for an exclusive World Leprosy Day event!

To mark World Leprosy Day 2019, we are also hosting Voices for Change, an evening of contemporary choral music at St Stephen Walbrook church in London. This iconic venue is situated just a 1 minute walk from where BELRA, now Lepra, was founded in 1924!

Featuring the Cantata Dramatica Chorus, soloists and instrumentalists, this performance will bring to life "Treasures of  Byzantium" a selection of newly commissioned music from Irish composer Solfa Carlile and BAFTA Award-winning composer Nick Bicat.

Book your tickets now

6 simple ways to get involved in World Leprosy Day

1. Take the pledge

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

2. Get social

Help us spread the word by joining us on social media on World Leprosy Day.

All you have to do is print off our #BeatLeprosy banner, take a selfie with it and then post it out on your chosen social media channels using our #BeatLeprosy and #WorldLeprosyDay2018 hashtags.

Download the banner here

Alternatively if you are camera shy, we will be creating graphics you can use on social media along with a tweet to say you are supporting World Leprosy Day. Don't forget to use #WorldLeprosyDay2018 to join in!

Graphics to be added soon!


You can also show your support by temporarily changing your profile picture to our Twibbon.

Click here to find out how to do it. 

3. Inform your friends

Leprosy has been forgotten by society - leaving the people affected ignored and isolated. By raising awareness around the world, we can tackle the stigma which often stops people coming forward for treatment, and raise funds to help beat the disease.

Why not use World Leprosy day to tell your friends and family about us, and the people we help - you can find out about the lives we have changed here.  By simply passing on your knowledge and telling someone about us and our work, you’ll be making a big difference.

4. 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. We have tips on what to say here.

5. FundraiseWear it loud for Lepra

All the money you raise goes towards improving the lives of those affected by diseases like leprosy and there are 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.

6. Add us to your emails

An easy way to tell all your friends and contacts about World Leprosy Day is to add our email banner to your email signature - just download it below and paste it into your emails.

Guidelines for use:

Simply right click on the image below, select "Save image as.." to save it to your files, then you should be able to paste it into your email signature.

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 2017 over 210,000 people were diagnosed and millions more go undiagnosed.

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

Early detection prevents disabilities

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 in 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

EMJ Medical Journal Logo

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.

Change a life this World Leprosy Day

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