AMBASSADOR’S JOURNAL: Meeting with health leaders at the 76th World Health Assembly

WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination Yohei Sasakawa traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with health leaders from around the world at the 76th World Health Assembly. He listened as leaders described the leprosy situation in their countries, and he asked for their cooperation in achieving a world without the disease and related problems.

Over five days, May 22-26, the Goodwill Ambassador met with health ministers and delegates from 17 countries as well as Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General; WHO regional directors; Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. 

With Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. The Goodwill Ambassador updated the Director-General on his activities, including plans for restarting visits to leprosy endemic countries, organizing an international conference in Bergen in June, and encouraging a national conference in Brazil.

With Mr. Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The High Commissioner thanked the Goodwill Ambassador for his efforts over many years, and expressed his desire to cooperate in solving the human rights issue of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their families.

AmericasWith Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, WHO Regional Director for the Americas. Dr. Barbosa is from Brazil, where the Goodwill Ambassador hopes there will be a national conference in the near future. Dr. Barbosa agreed to give his support to the conference as WHO Regional Director.

Brazil With, at left, Dr. Nesio Fernandes, Secretary of Primary Health Care; Dr. Nísia Trindade Lima, Minister of Health; and Dr. Ethel Maciel, Secretary of Health and Environment Surveillance. The Primary Health Care Secretariat and the Health and Environment Surveillance Secretariat are the two divisions of Brazil’s Ministry of Health responsible for Hansen’s disease policies.

PakistanWith, from left, Dr. Palitha Mahipala, WHO Country Representative, Dr. Malik Muhammad Safi, former Director General of Health, and Dr. Baseer Achakzai, current Director General of Health. Discussed awareness-raising in urban and rural areas in preparation for the Goodwill Ambassador’s first visit to Pakistan.

BangladeshWith Mr. Zahid Maleque, Minister of Health (left) and Dr. Md. Anowar Hossain Howlader, Secretary of the Health Services Division (right). Agreed that the first national conference, held in 2019, should be followed up by a second national conference as soon as possible.

India With Mr. S Gopalakrishnan, Additional Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare. Discussed cooperation for eliminating discriminatory laws and strengthening activities in northeastern India.

IndonesiaWith Mr. Setiaji, S.T., M.Si., Chief of Digital Transformation Office. Indonesia will consider implementing skin checks by health workers in model areas.

With Mr. Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.