The phrase “Act Now”, is an action word for an imminent response to things within. This aligns with the 2023 theme of the World Leprosy Celebration “Act Now: End Leprosy!”
According to World Health Organization, Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, an acid-fast, rod-shaped bacillus. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes. Leprosy is curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability.
Over the years, Leprosy has been associated with myths such as: Leprosy is a curse; leprosy is incurable; only poor people get leprosy; those affected by leprosy should not be touched, etc. World Leprosy Day aims to increase public awareness of Leprosy to enable people to seek treatment and live a life of dignity. Leprosy can be cured with antibiotic treatment. Treatment is available free of charge through the National Leprosy, Tuberculosis & Buruli Control Program; although many people with leprosy do not have access to healthcare services, either due to lack of knowledge or because of social stigmatization. We must work to break down the barriers that prevent people with leprosy from accessing healthcare services.
The World Health Organization has developed e-learning modules that aim to enhance knowledge and skills of staff at all levels on topics ranging from suspected referrals and diagnosis, to the treatment of leprosy and management of disabilities.
The Global Leprosy Strategy 2021–2030 guides the countries to accelerate progress towards zero leprosy, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. With the right resources and commitment, we can end leprosy as a public health threat by 2030. This goal is ambitious, but it is achievable. We must continue to invest in research and development to improve diagnostic tools, treatments, and vaccines. We must also work with governments, international organizations, and the private sector to mobilize resources and coordinate efforts to end leprosy.
It is a collective responsibility to ensure that everyone affected by leprosy feels loved and cherished by our actions. Let’s join hands with the government and other stakeholders to fight this disease and put an end to it once and for all. We can do this by educating ourselves and others about the disease, encouraging early diagnosis and seeking treatment as soon as possible; supporting research and development, to find a cure. It starts from what we do now, how we act and the kind of voices we lend. This is a call for global action. Together, we can act now!
Join us as we celebrate World Leprosy Day, Sunday 29th January, 2023.