World Leprosy Day was proposed by French humanitarian Raoul Follereau in 1954 (1) and has been annually observed around the world on the last Sunday of each January with the aim of raising global awareness and knowledge about this ancient disease and calling attention to the fact that leprosy can be prevented, treated, and cured. Since 1988, the China Leprosy Association initiated China Leprosy Day on the same day.
Although leprosy has been declared “eliminated” as a public health problem at a global level by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005, around 200,000 new cases are reported globally each year (2). In 2011, the Chinese Ministry of Health, together with 11 other ministries, implemented the “National Strategic Plan for Eliminating Harm of Leprosy, 2011–2020 in China”, aiming to reduce both the rate of grade 2 disability (G2D) and severe adverse drug reactions (ADR) caused by multidrug therapy (3). Since then, tremendous progress has been achieved including reducing the rate of G2D to 19% and the rate of ADR to 0% (4). There were only 521 new cases registered in 2018. This progress accelerates the achievement of a leprosy-free world.
World Leprosy Day will be taking place on January 26, 2020. China’s Leprosy Day theme is “To relieve leprosy poverty & to share healthy lives”.