Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Sunday joined residents and management of the Weija Leprosarium in Accra to mark the 70th Anniversary of World Leprosy Day with a strong appeal to end the stigmatisation against victims of leprosy.
World Leprosy Day is observed internationally on the last Sunday of every January to celebrate people who have acquired the disease and also to spread awareness about the disease.
In Ghana, the Lepers Aid Committee in collaboration with stakeholders, including Accra Omega Lions Club and the National Leprosy Control Programme marked the day in Accra.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Bawumia, who is also a Patron of the Lepers Aid Committee, said one of the biggest challenges in the fight against leprosy is the stigma against victims in society and appealed to all "to open up our hearts to victims."
"The stigma is coming from years of discrimination and misinformation. People feel that when you touch a cured leper, you will contract the disease. You can imagine what they go through when they are essentially shunned from society," said Dr Bawumia.
"I want to admonish all that let us open up our hearts and minds to support the cause of helping lepers in Ghana.'
"One of the best and most fulfilling things to do in your life is to bring smile and joy to those who have been neglected."
The Vice President added that the observation of World Lepers Day, is an opportunity to not only lift the voices of people affected by leprosy throughout the country but also an opportunity to "raise awareness for a disease many people think does not exist anymore," and also to raise funds in support of leprosarium.
As part of the ceremony, an appeal for support to expand facilities at the Weija Leprosarium was launched and the Vice President, donated 50,000 Cedis in support, while a representative of the National Chief Imam also donated 5,000 Cedis on his behalf.
The Vice President, while reiterating the government’s commitment to facilitating the provision of support to leprosarium and lepers, listed several interventions and support the government has extended to leprosarium across the country in the past six years, including redevelopment and renovation of the leprosarium.
Rev Father Andrew Campbell of the Weija Leprosarium used the occasion to express gratitude to Vice President Bawumia, who he said "is always ready as a father to help us in any way he can."
The Weija Leprosarium also honoured outstanding individuals who have dedicated their lives to serving and supporting lepers at the Weija Leprosarium.
The National Service Secretariat also honoured a service personnel, who has been of remarkable service at the Weija Leprosarium during her national service and has decided to stay at the leprosarium to continue serving the cured lepers.