In April 2020, the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, The Nippon Foundation (TNF), and the Sasakawa Health Foundation (SHF) completed a two-year reorganization project to leverage knowledge, networks, and resources more effectively. Under the name Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative, the WHO Goodwill Ambassador, TNF, and SHF work in a coordinated way to achieve a leprosy-free world.
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the Initiative’s first challenges. As countries divert resources from national leprosy programs in order to cope with sudden pandemic-related needs and people everywhere attempt to adjust to a “new normal,” the Initiative has launched the following activities:
Support for organizations by and for persons affected by leprosy
A new grant program supports persons affected by leprosy facing difficulties stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The Initiative will be providing a total of US$340,000 to 22 organizations in 14 countries spread over three continents.
All of the supported organizations are by and for persons affected by leprosy. The grants are awarded to fill an immediate need for pandemic-related support and, at the same time, to further our longer term goal of strengthening these organizations.
Countries worldwide are facing the challenge of maintaining comprehensive leprosy services (diagnosis, treatment, prophylaxis, rehabilitation, and surveillance) within their mainstream health systems amid the coronavirus pandemic. Success depends upon cooperation among key stakeholders.
To provide an opportunity for these key stakeholders to share information about challenges and strategies, the Initiative has launched a new webinar series. The series is free and open to everyone. Participants are expected to include representatives from governments, international organizations, organizations of persons affected by leprosy, NGOs, and research programs.
Representatives from organizations of persons affected by leprosy reported on providing emergency support during the COVID-19 pandemic.The webinar series will be held over a five-month period running until March 2021. The first webinar, held on Oct. 30, focused on “Schemes to support organizations of persons affected by leprosy during the coronavirus pandemic and their significance.” Details about the remaining sessions and how to participate will be posted on the Sasakawa Health Foundation website, accessible via the QR code on the back page of this bulletin.