World Leprosy Day is annually observed around the world on the last Sunday of January. The day was initiated in 1954 by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau, as a way to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured.


The global ministry, American Leprosy Missions states on their website:

Every day, 52 girls and boys around the world are diagnosed with leprosy. Many more will remain undiagnosed due to stigma, fear and lack of medical expertise. But leprosy can be cured. If it’s detected early, suffering and disabilities can be prevented.

The World Health Organization (WHO) say according to official reports received from 138 countries from all WHO regions, the global registered prevalence of leprosy at the end of 2015 was 176,176 cases (0.2 cases per 10,000 people). During the same year, 211,973 new cases were reported.

The date for World Leprosy Day was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of Indian freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948. During his lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi worked tirelessly towards the betterment of people afflicted with leprosy.