World Leprosy Day 2021: Events Around the World
17 March, 2021 | Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy
World Leprosy Day is recognized internationally on the last Sunday of January to increase the public awareness of leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. Organizations of persons affected by leprosy and other partners in the leprosy community typically hold in-person events to educate others about leprosy. Due to COVID-19, many events were organized virtually. We compiled a slideshow showcasing how the leprosy community celebrated World Leprosy Day in 2021.
WHO Goodwill Ambassador Yohei Sasakawa’s Message for World Leprosy Day
WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, Yohei Sasakawa, released a statement on World Leprosy Day 2021. He states: “Overcoming leprosy involves more than early diagnosis and prompt treatment. It also requires changing mindsets so that leprosy is no longer a source of shame or prejudice. We must remove all barriers in the way of those seeking medical care. We must eliminate the obstacles that prevent affected individuals and their families from living in dignity and enjoying all their basic human rights as full members of society.”
UN Special Rapporteur Alice Cruz Launches Youtube Channel
UN Special Rapporteur Alice Cruz launched her official Youtube Channel with videos that advocate for the rights of persons affected by leprosy and their family members.
View World Leprosy Day 2020 messages:
- Ashim Chowla, India, CEO of LEPRA Society
- Jayashree Kunju, India, IBAS Global, AIFO, LEPRA Society
- Huma, India, LEPRA Society
- Mathias Duck, Paraguay, Chair of the ILEP’s panel of persons affected
- Faustino Pinto, Morhan/Brazil
Cruz also released a media statement on the WLD 2021.
Vatican Cardinal Speaks Out Against Social Stigma for Leprosy Patients
In a message for World Leprosy Day on Jan. 31, the cardinal encouraged people to include those sick with leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, in their communities and relationships.
“Not everyone will have the skills or expertise to cure Hansen’s disease physically, but everyone is capable of promoting that culture of encounter which brings about healing and the mental well-being of those affected by this distressing illness,” he said.
Sasakawa Leprosy Initiative Hosts The Global Appeal and Webinar Series
Sasakawa Leprosy Initiative, which is a strategic alliance between Sasakawa Health Foundation, The Nippon Foundation, and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, Yohei Sasakawa, organized The Global Appeal. The Global Appeal focuses on the right to work and was endorsed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). For the first time, the Appeal was launched online. In the run-up to World Leprosy Day, the Initiative hosted a social media photo contest titled “Working with Dignity” in order to promote the idea that everyone has the right to work. Persons affected submitted photos of themselves and their jobs.
The Initiative also hosted two webinars leading up to World Leprosy Day: Initiatives for Preservation of Leprosy History in Europe and Zero Leprosy for Whom in the Post-COVID World, which involved 22 organizations of persons affected.
The Initiative, together with India’s Ministry of Health and WHO, jointly launched “Flipchart”, a user-friendly training material for Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in India to assist in case detection at the grassroots level. Approximately 310,000 copies are being printed and distributed in six high-endemic states.
The Leprosy Mission Trust India Hosts Film Screening
Dr. Mary Verghese, Executive Director, The Leprosy Mission Trust India (TLMTI) was interviewed by a news portal. Dr. Verghese spoke about the need to dispel wrong notions around leprosy that perpetuate stigma attached to this disease.
TLMTI hosted a virtual screening of, “Feeling Through,” an Oscar-nominated film on looking beyond one’s disability. Director Doug Roland and Subhojit Goswami of TLMTI discussed the importance of giving voice to people with disability in mainstream films. TLMTI also hosted a virtual event where artists and other eminent public figures endorsed the need to #BreakFreeLeprosy.