Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative has partnered with the World Health Organization to co-host the launch of the 2024 Global Appeal to end stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy at WHO headquarters in Geneva on January 31, 2024.
Taking part in the ceremony were Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, and Yohei Sasakawa, the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and Chairman of The Nippon Foundation.
This year’s appeal calls on people to learn the facts about leprosy, share accurate information and create a world where no one is left behind because of a treatable disease. “Let us break the chains of discrimination, work toward a leprosy-free world, and ensure dignity and care for everyone affected by this disease,” the appeal says.
The launch ceremony began with a Stradivarius Mini-Concert featuring outstanding young violinists Giuseppe Gibonni and Rino Yoshimoto.
In a dialogue between Director-General Tedros and Goodwill Ambassador Sasakawa, the latter noted that the WHO and Sasakawa Leprosy Initiative had been collaborating on leprosy elimination for some 50 years, and that working on one particular cause for this long is quite rare. “There has to be an outcome from this long collaboration,” he said.
Dr. Tedros said that the WHO’s Global Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) Strategy 2021-2030 clearly sets out what needs to be done to achieve zero leprosy, and that the WHO will do everything to support countries in implementing it. He emphasized that promoting community cooperation and eliminating stigma and discrimination through a people-centered approach will contribute to early diagnosis and treatment and prevent disability.
MC: Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director, Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO
Special Concert featuring two Stradivarius violinists
Mr Guiseppe Gibboni and Ms Rino Yoshimoto
Message from Dr Beatriz Miranda-Galarza, the UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members
Messages from persons affected by leprosy
Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia and United Republic of Tanzania
Messages from WHO Representatives from leprosy-endemic countries
Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Somalia and Ethiopia
Dialogue between Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO and Mr Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination
Moderator: Dr Takahiro Nanri, Executive Director, Sasakawa Health Foundation