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World Leprosy Day: Card. Turkson, “ending discrimination, stigma, and prejudice”

(Foto Siciliani-Gennari/SIR)

“Ending discrimination, stigma, and prejudice”. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, made this invitation in his message for the 66th World Leprosy Day (Hansen’s disease), which was celebrated last Sunday. “The medical community and society have seen great advances in the care of persons with Leprosy or Hansen’s disease in recent years”, the cardinal began. “Diagnosis has improved and various treatments are more accessible than before, yet this illness still continues to strike, especially the neediest and poorest of persons. Over 200,000 new cases of Hansen’s disease are reported each year, with 94% representing 13 different countries”. “There are several ways that this encounter with those suffering from leprosy can be facilitated”, the prefect explained: “Our health institutions and local health care systems, cooperating with government agencies and NGOs, can help form partnerships that will have a lasting effect on those afflicted with this illness. It will not be an individual effort that will bring about the necessary transformation of those struggling with leprosy, but a shared work of communion and solidarity”. “Building awareness, particularly in those countries where leprosy is endemic, is also a necessary step on the road to progress”, Card. Turkson wrote: “Here the power of education and the contribution of the academy of sciences can do much to assist those diagnosed with leprosy to find a way forward and to help our communities to extend a welcoming, healing hand. God always blesses such cooperation and the benefits for the sick are tangible”. Finally, communities themselves must continuously strive to eliminate “discrimination, stigma, and prejudice”, by working “towards the complete integration of the person in all of his or her bodily and spiritual dimensions”.

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