Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative has created “Don’t forget leprosy” campaign reminding the world that leprosy should not be side-lined amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign runs until May 2022, features webinars and messaging on TV, radio and social media, and marks the 20th anniversary of Sasakawa’s appointment as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many initiatives against leprosy have had to be scaled back or suspended as resources are directed toward the fight against COVID-19. Of particular concern is the fact that in some high-endemic countries, there has been a 30% to 50% decrease in detection of new cases, which will lead to increased transmission of the disease and more cases of disability.
For communities of persons affected by leprosy that were already in a vulnerable situation, the impact of the pandemic has hit them disproportionately hard. Lockdowns implemented in many countries have made it difficult for patients to access treatment and medical services, have resulted in the loss of livelihoods and exacerbated the discrimination that persons affected by leprosy already face because of the stigma associated with leprosy.
What we do for the campaign