World Leprosy Day | Kidadl


World Leprosy Day

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Where is World Leprosy Day observed? 

World Leprosy Day is an international event which is observed all over the world in all the nations on the last Sunday of January, every year. Since leprosy is an internationally occurring disease, there is an active need for spreading global awareness about it, this day is observed worldwide. 

Who is World Leprosy Day observed by? 

World Leprosy Day was initiated by French Humanitarian and Philanthropist Raoul Follereau and is observed by volunteers and activists primarily and even people who have fought and overcome leprosy.

When did World Leprosy Day first start? 

World Leprosy Day was first observed in 1954. 

Who started World Leprosy Day? 

World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday of January every year. This day was selected by a French philanthropist who was greatly inspired by Indian activist and leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Since Gandhi treated people affected with leprosy with compassion and worked to spread public awareness, Raoul Follereau decided to observe World Leprosy Day on the last Sunday of January, which in 1954 fell on January 31, one day after the death anniversary of Gandhi; to create awareness and combat negative social implications of the disease. 

Mahatma Gandhi played a vital role in creating awareness about leprosy.

History And Timeline

Now that you know the basics of World Leprosy Day, let's get into the details!

460 BC

Symptoms Defined

Symptoms resembling leprosy were defined by Hippocrates who is also known as the Father of Medicine in 460 BC.


Documentary Evidence Found

In 1824, documentary evidence of leprosy was found in ancient texts of the Greeks, Romans, Arabs as well as Indian Civilizations.


Actual Cause Identified

In 1873, Hansen was the first person to identify the actual cause of the disease, which is why it is called Hansen’s disease. As European colonization of the Americas and Polynesia began, the disease got spread in these parts too.

20th Century

Important Research Conducted

Between the '40s and '50s, medicines and treatments began to be available on a large scale and even free for some parts of the world. As a result, the number of infected people which was over 5.6 million in the 1980s, has come down to 216,000 worldwide in 2020.

January 30, 1954

World Leprosy Day

French humanitarian Raoul Follereau selected this day in the year 1954 to make sure it coincides with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Traditions And Customs

Creating awareness around the condition and its cure is the main rationale of World Leprosy Day. World Leprosy Day is observed across the world in order to make people aware that leprosy can be cured and there is no stigma around this day.

World Leprosy Day observed the contribution of Mahatama Gandhi towards the cause of people affected by leprosy.

Ways To Observe World Leprosy Day

There are various activities that you can engage in to observe World Leprosy Day:

Hold public outreach and educational events in collaboration with NGOs.

Organize events where medical professionals share insights about leprosy.

Visit people affected by leprosy and offer them assistance.

Participate in rallies and marathons organized for lepers.

Facts And Stats

  • The maximum number of leprosy cases today come primarily from Southeast Asian nations as well as Africa. World Leprosy Day began in the year of 1954 and still remains relevant.
  • Mahatma Gandhi had great compassion for those suffering from leprosy and hence, the date was chosen as a tribute to him.
  • In the 1900s, when awareness about this illness started to be spread through these campaigns, the numbers started dropping rapidly. As of 2019, over 200,000 cases were reported worldwide. Today about 200 cases appear each year in the USA. India and Africa still remain the biggest leprosy-infected regions of the world.

FAQs About World Leprosy Day

Why do we observe World Leprosy Day?

To spread awareness and remove the stigma around the disease. 

What is the theme of World Leprosy Day 2021?

The themes are to 'beat leprosy, end stigma, and advocate for mental well-being'.

On which day was World Leprosy Day celebrated in 2021?

January 31, 2021, which is the last Sunday of January.

Who coined World Leprosy Day?

French activist Raoul Follereau coined the World Leprosy Day.  

How does World Leprosy Day motivate patients?

It would encourage them to not be ashamed or scared and get diagnosed and treated early. 

How is funding done for patients?

Patients are not required to pay any money in some countries like India. The treatment is free of cost and funding is obtained from government sources. 

How much money is contributed towards World Leprosy Day?

No concrete information is available regarding the exact amount of money contributed towards World Leprosy Day.

Hashtags To Use On Social Media


When Is This Day Celebrated

Date Day
January 26, 2020 Sunday
January 31, 2021 Sunday
January 30, 2022 Sunday
January 29, 2023 Sunday
January 28, 2024 Sunday

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