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World Leprosy Day

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.

Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, who debunked the notion that leprosy was hereditary.
Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, who debunked the notion that leprosy was hereditary.

Commemorate World Leprosy Day

On this day, organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) hold public and educational outreach events where they give people information about how to prevent the spread of the disease. Doctors and other medical professionals spend time talking to the public about how to recognize the symptoms of leprosy.

Organizations also hold rallies and marathons to raise money for research and providing treatment and rehabilitate those afflicted with the disease. In addition, seminars and workshops are held around the world to address the problems faced by leprosy patients and to find ways to reduce the social stigma faced by them.

Public Life

World Leprosy Day is not an official holiday so businesses, schools and government offices are open.

About World Leprosy Day

Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to humankind. It is also known as Hansen’s disease, named after Norwegian physician, Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, who debunked the prevailing notion of the time that leprosy was a hereditary disease. He showed that the disease had a bacterial cause instead. For thousands of years, people with leprosy have been stigmatized and considered to be at the extreme margins of the society. The aim of World Leprosy Day is to change this attitude and increase public awareness of the fact that leprosy can now be easily prevented and cured.

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.

World Leprosy Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
SunJan 312010World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunFeb 62011World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunFeb 52012World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunFeb 32013World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunFeb 22014World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunJan 252015World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunJan 312016World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunFeb 52017World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunFeb 42018World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunFeb 32019World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 
SunFeb 22020World Leprosy DayWorldwide observance 

Quick Facts

World Leprosy Day brings awareness of leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, and ways to prevent the disease.

World Leprosy Day 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

World Leprosy Day 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Name in other languages

World Leprosy DayEnglish
Día Mundial de la LepraSpanish
עולם יום הצרעתHebrew
يوم مرض الجذام العالميArabic
세계 한센병의 날Korean
Verdensdag for spedalskhet / lepraNorwegian

List of dates for other years

Fun Holiday on January 31, 2017

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