Jan. 31: World Leprosy Day, MAP International Working to Eliminate Leprosy in West Africa

For thousands of years, the world has experienced the horrors of leprosy. But many are surprised to learn the disease is still infecting more than 250,000 new victims every year. Every day, 52 children (20,000/year) are diagnosed with the curable disease. 14 Million people live with disabilities as a result of leprosy

MAP International, a Georgia-based global health nonprofit, is marking World Leprosy Day on January 31, raising awareness of the disease as it continues to provide medical assistance for its victims, primarily in West Africa.

A team from MAP was in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana recently to provide vital medical supplies to leprosy patients. The team brought enough medical supplies to treat 1,400 people and distributed it to local clinics that will treat thousands of patients in the coming months. These clinics also receive medicines and medical supplies from MAP year round.

MAP is working in several west African countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia, to provide preventative education and medicines as well as necessary medical supplies for adults and children with leprosy. Since 2002, MAP has been focusing on West Africa, teaching awareness, prevention and treatment of the disease.

The date set for World Leprosy Day commemorates the death of Mahatma Gandhi, who made it his life’s goal to eradicate leprosy. World Leprosy Day hopes to raise awareness of the disease and continue towards the goal of eradication.

By the Numbers:

  • Each year, as many as 250,000 people are diagnosed with leprosy
  • Every day, 52 children (20,000/year) are diagnosed with the curable disease
  • 14 Million people live with disabilities as a result of leprosy
  • 94% of all cases are in Africa, Asia and South America
  • In 2014, India, Brazil and Indonesia had the most new cases
About Leprosy: Leprosy is a bacterial infection that causes skin damage, destroys nerves and causes problems in the eyes and nose.
  • As the disease progresses, the nerve damage results in a loss of feeling in the affected area.
  • Patients no longer feel pain and therefore injure themselves, leading to infections and often the loss of appendages.
  • Vaccinations are available to prevent this disease. Medicines are available to treat patients with leprosy when detected early.
Video Available: Leprosy patients in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana shot by MAP International:

MAP International is a global health organization that partners with people living in conditions of poverty to save lives and build healthier families and communities. Known for its 99% efficiency rating, MAP provides medicines, prevents disease and promotes health to create real hope and lasting change.