Card. Turkson: Beat Leprosy

The Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development issues a message stating the disease needs to be treated from a human and medical perspective: "the human encounter can eliminate stigma and that mental essential part of integral health ". In 2020, there were 200,000 new patients. Pope Francis thanks the missionaries, medical staff, associations, volunteers.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson released a message today to mark the the 68th World Day for Leprosy Sufferers (Hansen's Disease). The theme of the message, "Beat Leprosy”, wants to affirm that "leprosy is treatable, that the human encounter can eliminate stigma and that mental well-being is an essential part of integral health".

According to data from the World Health Organization, in 2020 there were 200,000 new leprosy sufferers in the world, but "millions of people live with some form of disability as a result of leprosy".

The Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development stressed that “beating leprosy involves more than a mere medical struggle". It is also necessary to "eliminate the social stigma that accompanies this difficult illness and ultimately envisions the restoration of the human person in an integral way ".

For this reason, in addition to the "multi-drug therapy", which is proving "remarkably effective", it is necessary to commit to "integral health". This is "imperative for leprosy patients with regards to their mental well-being," as leprosy can be shown to have a significant impact on social participation and mental health as well as causing physical disabilities. " In a sense the person with leprosy suffers from the illness itself, and from the way he or she is received in the community. Lack of social adhesion can have a profoundly negative impact on self-esteem and a person’s outlook on life, ultimately leaving the person vulnerable to mental illness.”

"Not everyone will have the skills or expertise to cure Hansen’s disease physically, but everyone is capable of promoting that culture of encounter which brings about healing and the mental well-being of those affected by this distressing illness."

Today at the end of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis thanked the missionaries, the medical staff and the many volunteers, including the Raoul Follerau Association, who are doing their utmost in the care of the people suffering from Hansen disease.