International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 Dec 2017: No child left behind

December 1, 2017

We first brought you Manjeet’s story for World Leprosy Day 2016. At only nine years old he was diagnosed with leprosy. However, his case was even more unusual than most—he presented with multiple disabilities including clawed hands and a foot drop. This level of injury is almost unheard of in a child as young as him and is a result of late diagnosis. Currently undergoing physiotherapy and several reconstructive procedures, Manjeet is learning to live with and adapt to his leprosy diagnosis. He continues to live aspects of a normal life for a child his age by playing with games and toys.

Unfortunately, like many people who develop disabilities as a result of leprosy, it is likely that Manjeet will face discrimination and stigma as he grows older. Though a good attitude and a positive outlook on life can go a long way, this will undoubtably be tasking on his self esteem.

Manjeet is not alone. Thousands of children and adults face disability as a result of leprosy. In the World Health Organisation’s 2017 report, it was calculated that 214,783 new leprosy cases were detected and that 13,000 of these individuals suffered from unnecessary and preventable impairments and disabilities. Had early detection and treatment been provided, multidrug therapy could have prevented most of these individuals from facing life-altering changes.

On Sunday, 3rd December 2017, ILEP recognizes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

As many people with disabilities, including those with leprosy, fight to overcome debilitating obstacles, ILEP calls on the global community to help put an end to the stigma and discrimination this community faces. We hope to help each other as a global force to drive towards the sustainable development goals of reduced inequalities and good health and well-being for all. Together, through increased efforts of early detection and treatment, we can help to create a world where children like Manjeet and others diagnosed with leprosy never have to worry about facing discrimination from society or being unable to accomplish their dreams.