For centuries, persons affected by leprosy and their families have had to make lives for themselves in the context of beliefs, laws, and practices based on ignorance and fear. Negative associations with leprosy are embedded in many cultures, and treating leprosy from a medical and public health perspective alone will not get us to a world without problems associated with leprosy. To realize a world where all persons affected by leprosy can live with peace of mind as part of mainstream society, all countries have to eliminate discrimination and support restoration of dignity through empowerment.
The WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination (GWA), Sasakawa Health Foundation (SHF), and The Nippon Foundation (TNF) each have made significant contributions to global awareness of leprosy as a human rights issue. The Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative continues passionate and informed support for the human rights and empowerment of persons affected by leprosy and their families.
Currently, the Initiative is focusing on three areas:
Abolition of discriminatory laws, pursued by
- Promoting implementation of the “Principles and guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members”
- Supporting the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members
Empowerment of persons affected by leprosy, pursued by
- Promoting the centrality of persons affected by leprosy in all decision-making about leprosy-related policy
- Supporting organizations of persons affected by leprosy to grow stronger by providing training and networking opportunities
Awareness raising and spreading accurate knowledge, pursued by
- Organizing conferences, seminars, and other events to promote awareness of leprosy-related issues, and to share recent scientific knowledge and best practices
- Using a wide range of tools and methods for sharing information