Credit: FFL / Thierry Winn

Fondation Follereau Luxembourg (FFL) has announced the launch of its awareness campaign for World Leprosy Day, observed internationally every year on the last Sunday of January.

World Leprosy Day has been around for 68 years. Its aim is to remind the public that healthcare essentials are not always within reach. Even today, whilst some viruses manage to reach the whole world, in some remote regions, health workers still encounter older diseases such as leprosy or Buruli ulcer.

Consultation is an essential step. And yet, in the countries where FFL works, many patients fail to go to health centres, not only out of fear or denial, but because the nearest centre is often too far away. Sometimes when they do go there, the health worker is unable to identify the disease that is affecting them, simply because they have not been trained. 

Distance, poor diagnoses and inadequate resources are the natural allies of a disease like leprosy. It can move freely through the patient's nervous system, cause significant lesions without pain, disfigure or cripple the patient who loses the use of their hands and leaves patients desperate and excluded. 

Nevertheless, FFL has assured that there is nothing inevitable about leprosy. It can be diagnosed fairly easily and fully healed within three months with a combination of antibiotics. To help these people, it is important then to attack the allies of such diseases: a lack of accessible health care, trained personnel and medication.

The FFL has thus invested in the creation of health centres in these remote regions. These centres offer disease screening, carried out by competent and permanent staff, who also ensure that treatments are followed. This year, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the centres informed the public of the barrier gestures and hygiene rules. It will be from these logistical bases that the vaccination effort can extend its effectiveness.

According to the FFL, this difficult year confirmed the value of the work done thanks to the support of the public. For 55 years, the foundation has been able to help hundreds of thousands of people suffering from these old diseases.

The FFL is also launching a multimedia poster campaign, as well as a press, digital and audiovisual campaign to raise awareness of these diseases and the efforts to support poor populations.

To support the FFL's work, the public is invited to make a donation via bank transfer to the account BCEE IBAN LU38 0019 1100 2081 3000.