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Youth festival held in Delhi to raise awareness about leprosy


Press Trust of India New Delhi
To raise awareness about leprosy and to eliminate the stigma surrounding it, a national youth festival was held in the national capital on Tuesday by the Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation (SILF), an NGO that works towards creating economic opportunities for leprosy-affected people.
The 'Youth against Leprosy' witnessed widespread participation of youth.
Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of the NITI Ayog who graced the occasion as the chief guest said youth are harbingers of change and can play a vital role in bringing those affected by leprosy and their families to the mainstream.
"As a member of the Indian government and as a citizen of this country I support the cause of leprosy and feel that everyone should come forward to mainstream those affected by leprosy and their families.
"It is important that we encourage early detection and treatment so that leprosy is eliminated from the country. However, this can happen only if we fight the stigma together," Kumar said.
According to the WHO, India accounts for around 60 per cent of new cases of leprosy reported globally.
The annual youth festival by the SILF provides a platform for young people from non-leprosy backgrounds to mingle and interact with youth from leprosy colonies.
These interactions are aimed to bust myths and create social bridges among college youth regarding leprosy.
Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy eradication said, "There are many issues in the world, including the stigma and discrimination surrounding leprosy, and it is the youth of today who can resolve them."

"You have the right to build a bright future and you have the power to make that future come true. I would like you to live your lives with pride, have hopes and dreams, and work to overcome the present challenges."

Sasakawa has also been nominated for the Gandhi Peace Prize by government of India, for his commitment towards raising awareness on leprosy.

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First Published: Jan 29 2019 | 7:15 PM IST

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