HUNDREDS of people gathered at the PJ Twomey Hospital in Tamavua on yesterday to remember patients who lost their lives to leprosy.
The hospital held a special church service which was attended by former lepers, families and friends of those who lost their lives to the disease, and doctors and nurses who toiled hard to provide treatment.
Ministry of Health director Hospital Services Doctor Metuisela Tuicakau said the International Leprosy Day was normally observed on January 30 or its nearest Sunday.
Dr Tuicakau said that was the reason they held the church service.
He said while Fiji had no threat of leprosy there was an urgent need for more awareness.
Dr Tuicakau said Fiji still had three cases of leprosy.
Leprosy is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium Leprae and affects primarily the skin, nerves and the mucosa and tends to attack the cooler parts of the body such as feet, ears and face.
"In Fiji from the year 1911 to 1969 there were 4000 leprosy cases and close to 2000 from the year 1969 to 2011. These cases were wiped out by the ministry's treatments and awareness of the disease," he said.