This Sunday, January 27, is World Leprosy Day, a day to raise awareness of a disease that many people believe to be eradicated from the planet.
The global elimination of leprosy was officially announced in 2000. However, approximately 210,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and some believe millions more are living undiagnosed.
For over 60 years, on the last Sunday of January, people around the world have observed World Leprosy Day by remembering and praying for those living with the terrible effects of the disease.
Leprosy is a chronic, infectious disease that develops slowly, with an average incubation period of five years. It is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae, and chiefly affects the skin, peripheral nerves, mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, and eyes. It is curable. But, when left untreated they can cause severe deformities and have life-threatening consequences.
MAP International has engaged in the fight to end leprosy in West Africa since early 2002. We joined with renowned partners American Leprosy Missions, Effect:Hope and The Leprosy Mission Ireland. The fight against leprosy included strategies to cure, care and end the disease.
In addition to teaching awareness, prevention and treatment of these diseases to the local community, MAP also trained healthcare professionals to identify symptoms and begin treatment in the earliest stages of the disease to save lives.
Recently, MAP President and CEO Steve Stirling visited a former leprosy colony in Bong County, Liberia. With help from our partners and generous donors like you, MAP repaired water wells and provided training and medicine for treatment for the many adults who formerly had the disease. He was greeted with smiling faces as they shared their stories.
As we honor World Leprosy Day, will you help us provide more medicines to more people still fighting this disease? With your help, we can eradicate leprosy once and for all.