On 31st January 2016, the world celebrated World Leprosy Day, in hopes of spreading awareness and breaking the stigma and stereotypes surrounding the disease. Awareness programmes and activities were held all over the world which saw thousands of people attending. In Chennai, India, a walkathon was held on Marina Beach to raise awareness of the disease, which saw around 300 college students attending.
In the Vatican, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the pontifical council of health care workers, released a speech to commemorate the event with the theme: To live it to help to live. He encourages everyone to fight the infection and weaken the ostracism associated with the disease. He quotes Pope Francis, who says that “we must manage to help them, looking them in the eye, without being afraid to touch them, so that this gesture of help may also be a gesture of communication … a gesture of tenderness.”