Gazzetta di Alba
Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - "The main cause of suffering for people affected by leprosy is social exclusion: even when they manage to recover from this disease, social reintegration is often difficult". This is what Father Pierre-Marie Bulgo, a Camillian missionary, in charge of the leper colony that the religious run in Ouagadougou told Agenzia Fides, on the occasion of the 68th World Day of leprosy, which is celebrated on Sunday 31 January. "Usually, most of our patients - he continues - have no intention of returning to the family of origin, because they claim to have found a new family in which they do not feel stigmatized".
Today leprosy has been reduced, thanks to medical progress, but still affects over 200,000 people a year, leaving many of them with signs of disability: about 3 million, according to data published by the World Health Organization. "This makes these people, more often than not, marginalized by fears and prejudices that have not yet been completely defeated", explains Father Pierre-Marie Bulgo, recounting that leprosy is still present and widespread in Burkina Faso. Leprosy, although it is treatable today, still develops in poor regions and where basic health care capable of preventing contagion and the onset of the disease is lacking. India and Brazil alone account for 70% of leprosy cases in the world.
The commitment of the Camillian missionaries in Burkina Faso alongside men and women living with leprosy has lasted for over 40 years: "The work of the missionary sisters of Africa - says Father Bulgo - and, subsequently, the charisma and fervor spirituality of Father Vincenzo Luise, our confrere, have contributed to the manifestation of God's merciful love. In our reception center - continues the missionary - we heal the wounds caused by skin lesions and dermatoses from which they suffer. We provide them with food aid with the help of local and foreign donors. We try to recreate an environment where they can feel loved and supported. We also support them for their social reintegration".
Father Pierre-Marie notes: "It is important to aim for a cultural renewal that educates consciences and develops a culture of assistance, as also recommended by the Holy Father. This day is an opportunity to renew the Church's commitment in the fight against exclusion and stigmatization, in combating tribalism, in preventing inter-communal conflicts, announcing the Gospel of fraternity and love". (ES) (Agenzia Fides, 30/1/2021)