The World Vitiligo Day is observed on June 25, every year, to build global awareness about a skin disorder that can have a significantly negative social and psychological impact on those living with it. It is an initiative to fight misconceptions regarding vitiligo that is still present in large parts of the world. The purpose of the day is to also bring together all vitiligo fighters and to share stories and learn about research efforts to find a cure.
The idea of the World Vitiligo Day was first stemmed by Steve Haragadon, the founder of the Vitiligo Friends network, and then brought to life by Ogo Maduewesi, a Nigerian vitiligo fighter who is also the founder of the Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF).
The first World Vitiligo Day was observed in 2011 and has since become an annual event. The choice of June 25 as the Day was a memorial to musical artist Michael Jackson, who suffered from the chronic skin disorder from the early 1980s until his death on June 25, 2009. Here is a quick timeline of World Vitiligo Day events:
2011: The first Vitiligo Awareness Day (also called Purple Fun Day then) was brought to life by Ogo Maduewesi, Founder and President of VITSAF in Lagos, Nigeria.
2012: The Vitiligo Awareness Day started following a press conference in Rome (Italy) on June 22nd. This was followed by free dermatology consultations across Rome, street events in Brazil and Nigeria, media coverages in Botswana, Chad, China, Czech Republic, France, India, Macedonia, the United Kingdom and the USA.
2013: This year, the World Vitiligo Day changed its headquarters from Rome to Detroit (USA). The day was celebrated with large gatherings and the distribution of information leaflets.
2014: 40 World Vitiligo Day-branded rickshaws paraded on June 25th in the city of Chandigarh (India), host of World Vitiligo Day this year.
2015: This year, World Vitiligo Day campaign was headquartered at Shenyang (China).
2016: This year’s events were one of the largest in the history of the World Vitiligo Day. A key media event was held in beautiful Prague. A series of events were held in Washington DC on June 24-25 too.
2017: The campaign headquarters were set up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In the USA, main celebrations were held in Detroit on June 23-25.
2018: Detroit was the host location for the United States on World Vitiligo Day 2018. Unlike the previous year, 2018 got better media coverage and saw many famous faces pledging to spread global awareness about vitiligo. Blue Eagle Isaac (famous basketball player from Philipines) revealed his vitiligo to the public for the first time. Mamata Banerjee (Chief Minister of the Indian state of West Bengal) and Saumya Tandon (an Indian Actress) took to Twitter to spread awareness on vitiligo.
Why is World Vitiligo Day important?
Over the years, World Vitiligo Day’s purpose has broadened from raising global awareness to including the recognition of bullying, social neglect, and psychological trauma of millions of people affected by the chronic skin disorder. June 25 is more than a celebration. It’s a call to action to make everyone understand that:
- Vitiligo is a skin disorder worthy of attention.
- Funding for research into the cure of vitiligo is needed.
- Adequate coverage of proven vitiligo treatments is every vitiligo fighter’s right.
- Federal and local support for vitiligo research is needed.
Having an unusual appearance can be difficult when a strong emphasis on physical appearance is placed. Since we all are constantly exposed to images of the idealized ‘perfect’ body and face, the psychological implications for people with a visual difference can be immense. Hence, it is essential to normalize vitiligo so that the society no longer stares, makes unfriendly comments, and stigmatizes those who have the chronic skin disorder.
With the annual celebration of World Vitiligo Day and extensive awareness on the skin disorder, there will be an understanding of vitiligo among all, and millions of people worldwide would be saved from social isolation.