World Leprosy Day: Accord lepers dignity of existence - Dr Bawumia
The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has called on society to appreciate lepers and people suffering from leprosy by according them the dignity of existence.
He said the people must bring lepers closer to enable them to live life free from stigma.
Dr Bawumia made the call when he joined the Weija Leprosarium to mark World Leprosy Day Sunday, January 30, on the theme: “United for dignity”.
According to him, the plight of people who suffered from leprosy and those cured of the disease was that of discrimination and exclusion, adding that such was the reality of the existence of lepers.
World Leprosy Day was established by a French philanthropist in 1954 and it is marked every last Sunday of January to create awareness of the leprosy disease, so that people will be fully informed.
The event, which was organised by the Lepers Aid Committee Ghana and the National Leprosy Control Programme, in collaboration with the Dornukie Foundation, was participated by representatives from the Ankaful Leprosarium, among others.
Dr Bawumia, who donated GH¢50,000 to the Lepers Aid Committee, said many families shunned their relatives who were afflicted by leprosy because they did not want to be associated with the disease.
According to him, lepers were loved from a distance, and that society was more comfortable when lepers were hidden.
He further said about 200,000 people were diagnosed of leprosy worldwide every year and said it was a disease caused not by hereditary but by a bacteria.
“If you are a leper, it does not mean your child will be a leper or your parents were lepers. No; anybody can be afflicted by leprosy, nobody is immune, but what we have to note is that leprosy does not affect your mind and does not make you less useful to society,” he explained.
The Vice-President, who was impressed by a musical performance by one of the cured lepers, said it was time society understood that lepers were also as intelligent as any other people and must also be given the chance to exhibit their talent.
Dr Bawumia paid tribute to Rev. Father Andrew Campbell for his selfless and dedicated service to the poor and lepers in particular, adding that through Father Campbell, much had been done for lepers and the poor in the country in the last 50 years.
He made special mention of the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund, Ms Irene Naa Torshie Addo, and the Director of the National Leprosy Control Programme, Dr Benedict Quao, for their immense contribution to the welfare of lepers.
For his part, Dr Quao said leprosy inflicted lot of pain on the afflicted and, therefore, urged society to stop stigmatising lepers.