English Africa Service Vatican News.
Pope Francis’ solidarity on World Leprosy Day
On Sunday Pope Francis expressed his closeness to all those who suffer from Hansen’s disease – better known as leprosy – on World Leprosy Day, which is observed each year on the last Sunday in January to increase public awareness of the condition. The Holy Father also offered words of encouragement to missionaries, health workers, and volunteers committed to serving those affected by the disease.
Cardinal Turkson: The world can beat Hansen’s disease
The theme for this year’s World Leprosy Day observance is “Beat Leprosy.” In a message to mark the day, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said, the noble aim of beating Hansen’s disease, “begins with the medical reality that leprosy is a curable disease; but beating leprosy involves more than a mere medical struggle. It also seeks to eliminate the social stigma that accompanies this difficult illness and ultimately envisions the restoration of the human person in an integral way,” the Cardinal said.
Camillians at Ouagadougo’s Leprosarium
“The main cause of suffering for people affected by leprosy is social exclusion: Even when they manage to recover from this disease, social reintegration is often difficult.” Father Pierre-Marie Bulgo, a Camillian missionary, in charge of the Leprosarium that the religious order runs in Ouagadougou told Agenzia Fides, on the occasion of the 68th World Day of leprosy.
“Usually, most of our patients .. have no intention of returning to their family of origin, because they claim to have found a new family where they do not feel stigmatised,” Fr Bulgo said.
The commitment of the Camillian missionaries in Burkina Faso alongside men and women living with leprosy has lasted for over 40 years: “We heal the wounds caused by skin lesions and dermatoses from which they suffer. We try to recreate an environment where they can feel loved and supported. We also support them for their social reintegration,” said Fr Bulgo.
World Leprosy Day aims at raising awareness about this ancient disease that is easily curable with antibiotics today. Sadly, many people worldwide continue to suffer from this curable disease due to lack of access to primary medical care and continued stigma surrounding the illness.