The Purple Hope Initiative Nigeria (PHIN) condemned Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder of Living Faith Church, remark.
In January, the priest issued a warning to Nigerians who criticize pastors, threatening them with leprosy if they did not stop.
The “discriminatory remarks” were condemned by PHIN, which is backed by the German Leprosy Relief Association (GLRA).
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, should not be used as a threat or curse, according to the authority.
Caroline Cassard of the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy wrote an open letter to DAILY POST on behalf of The Task Force for Global Health.
The letter asked Oyedepo to talk about how to help the Hansen’s disease community in Nigeria and around the world.
It reads: “As a Nigerian organization of people who have experienced Hansen’s disease, we are dismayed to read media reports where you claim that insulting a prophet can cause leprosy. These statements are inaccurate and further stigmatize.
“More than 200,000 people are diagnosed with Hansen’s disease each year, and there are believed to be more than two million individuals affected by Hansen’s disease who are undiagnosed and untreated.
“Negative social attitudes towards people who have experienced Hansen’s disease create a serious barrier to treatment and hinder global efforts to interrupt the transmission of the disease.
“Hansen’s disease is caused by bacteria and is curable with an antibiotic regimen called multi-drug therapy. Hansen’s disease is not hereditary, and it is not a curse.
“However, people affected by this disease are still marginalized and excluded from communities around the globe. They are isolated by families and friends. They lose their jobs, marriages, property, and experience human rights violations.
“People who have experienced Hansen’s disease deserve to live dignified and respectable lives. Their diagnosis must not define them, and they must not be excluded from their communities.”
The letter condemned the use of leprosy as a metaphor and reminded public figures, particularly religious leaders, of their responsibility to respect the millions of people who have been affected.
Even if Oyedepo did not want to discriminate against individuals who have suffered from the illness, his words have harmed “our efforts and our existence,” according to the statement.
PHIN encouraged him to join the fight against the disease and to end all forms of stigmatization and discrimination towards victims.