Anne McTaggart MSP praised the work of charities tackling the disease of leprosy including the Scottish Leprosy mission, and called on more awareness of the disease to be recognised on World Leprosy Day: the 27th of January 2013.
Anne was speaking in a Members Debate on World Leprosy Day.
Leprosy is a debilitating disease, affecting the lives of millions of people all over the world and devastating families who have no access to the appropriate medical treatment. Developments in modern medicine have allowed sufferers of leprosy to be cured entirely, though tragically the medical resources are too often unavailable in the areas where the disease is most prevalent. Communities across the developing world are hardest hit by leprosy, usually a cause of extreme poverty and, if left untreated, can reduce the lifespan of a sufferer by up to 50%.
The Leprosy Mission has worked to tackle the misunderstanding and stigma associated with leprosy, and has raised awareness of the plight of millions of people who continue to suffer from this disease worldwide. The ‘World Leprosy Day’ event will provide another platform to increase the profile of the disease and potentially secure the kind of resources that would make a difference to those without access to medical treatment, or even the knowledge that it is curable. The Scottish Leprosy Mission works internationally across 30 countries from Africa to Asia and many nations in-between with the goal of eradicating the causes and consequences of leprosy. Volunteers in Scotland have recognised the devastating effect that this disease continues to have in the 21st century, and recognising the importance of these efforts as part of the wider action to tackle poverty and disadvantage in developing nations.
Anne McTaggart MSP said: “Leprosy represents more than the disease itself, and highlights the extreme poverty that so many people in developing nations endure without access to appropriate medical or financial support even in the most pressing times of need. It is entirely unacceptable that so many individuals should suffer from curable diseases in the 21st century, and it is tragic that this suffering is compounded by the misunderstanding and stigma that still surrounds leprosy worldwide.
“It is through the proper support and recognition of movements such as the Scottish Leprosy Mission that the international community can make a real impact on this kind of unnecessary suffering, and Anne once again commends the efforts of all the activists and volunteers who have raised the profile of this disease here in Scotland and across the world.”