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.

6 simple ways to get involved in World Leprosy Day

1. 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.

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 #WLD2017 hashtags.

Download the banner here

Alternatively if you are camera shy, send us a tweet using #WLD2017, or like or share on our social media this World Leprosy Day 

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

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.

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’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.

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.

Please use our banner on 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 2015 over 210,000 people were diagnosed and it is estimated that millions more go undiagnosed.

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

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.