Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February each year. The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients' lives.
The campaign targets primarily the general public and also seeks to raise awareness amongst policy makers, public authorities, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals and anyone who has a genuine interest in rare diseases.
Building awareness of rare diseases is so important because 1 in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some point in their life. Despite this, there is no cure for the majority of rare diseases and many go undiagnosed. Rare Disease Day improves knowledge amongst the general public of rare diseases while encouraging researchers and decision makers to address the needs of those living with rare diseases.
Since Rare Disease Day was first launched by EURORDIS and its Council of National Alliances in 2008, thousands of events have taken place throughout the world reaching hundreds of thousands of people and resulting in a great deal of media coverage. We especially thank our official Rare Disease Day partners, the National Alliances. These are umbrella organisations who group together several rare disease organisations in a given country or region. Click on a logo of one of the National Alliances to go to their website.
A disease or disorder is defined as rare in Europe when it affects fewer than 1 in 2000.
A disease or disorder is defined as rare in the USA when it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time.
One rare disease may affect only a handful of patients in the EU (European Union), and another may touch as many as 245,000. In the EU, as many as 30 million people may be affected by one of over 6000 existing rare diseases.
· 80% of rare diseases have identified genetic origins whilst others are the result of infections (bacterial or viral), allergies and environmental causes, or are degenerative and proliferative.
· 50% of rare diseases affect children.