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 touch as many as 245,000. In the EU, as many as 30 million people alone may be affected by one of over 6000 rare diseases existing.
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.
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.
The political momentum resulting from Rare Disease Day also serves advocacy purposes. It has notably contributed to the advancement of national plans and policies for rare diseases in a number of countries.
Even though the campaign started as a European event, it has progressively become a world phenomenon, with the USA joining in 2009, and participation in a record-breaking 84 countries around the world in 2014. We hope many more will join in 2015. Some countries have decided to raise rare disease awareness further, for example, Spain declared 2013 as the National Year for Rare Diseases.
Our objective is for the World Health Organization to recognise the last day of February as the official Rare Disease Day and to raise increasing awareness for Rare Diseases worldwide.
On rarediseaseday.org you can find information about the thousands of events happening around the world to build awareness for people living with a rare disease and their families. If you are planning an event, register your event details on our Post your Event page to get your event listed on the site