The 61st World Leprosy Day was celebrated on Sunday 26 January. An opportunity to review treatment for the disease and to promote the rights of those it has affected, especially in India, Brazil and Indonesia. Ordre de Malte France, in the vanguard in treating and assisting leprosy patients, organized a campaign to finance research on 24, 25 and 26 January. Some ten thousand volunteers took to the French streets to collect funds. Last year 740,000 euro were raised during the same initiative.
According to the official data of the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2012 almost 233,000 new cases were reported in some hundred countries. Ten percent of these involved children. An early diagnosis and the possibility of prompt treatment are still the keys to tackling the disease. Polichemotherapy – chemotherapy involving simultaneous administration of several agents – can guarantee total recovery, on condition that the patient receives timely treatment in a specialized centre
Ordre de Malte France works in 17 countries through 20 specialized facilities. One of these is the Order of Malta’s Hospital Centre in Dakar (CHOM), a valid point of reference in the area and the only unit treating leprosy patients in Senegal and west Africa. Ordre de Malte France also trains medical and health-care personnel and some 500 African, French, Vietnamese and Cambodian doctors have been trained in the Dakar centre.
In addition, Ordre de Malte France has set up a scientific research programme (MALTALEP) which since 2006 has been examining the genetic mechanisms causing leprosy and developing a vaccine.