First sign of leprosy
Leprosy is an infectious disease involving the skin and nerves of infected individuals. Left untreated, nerve damage and other complications occur as the disease progresses. Lack of feeling leads to wounds and deformities of the face and limbs.
In many communities, leprosy leads to stigma towards those affected and their families, causing them to be shunned and even excluded from everyday life. Leprosy remains endemic in poorer parts of the world. Around 230,000 new patients are reported worldwide each year. In addition, it is estimated that at least 3 million people are living with some permanent disability due to leprosy, although the exact figure is unknown.
Fortunately, leprosy can be completely cured with a few months of effective drug treatment. If this is started at an early stage, most patients need never suffer the damaging complications of leprosy.
"FAITH LEADERS CAN HELP STOP LEPROSY STIGMA"
Leprosy Conference at the Vatican
Faith leaders, doctors, medical volunteers and leprosy sufferers are meeting in the Vatican this week. The faith leaders from all major religions get together and talk about leprosy because these leaders have the influential power to convince their believers.
Since the 1980s, 16 million people have been cured of leprosy. However roughly 215,000 new patients a year are recorded, almost all in developing countries.
Leprosy primarily affects people in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, but once the treatment is administered a person with the disease is completely cured and no longer contagious. All faith leaders, doctors, and volunteers are continuing to battle for its eradication even though many in the West have forgotten its existence.
A cured leprosy patient showing his deformed hands in a New Delhi leprosy colony.
127,000 new people suffering from leprosy were reported in India in 2014.