History and Development

Foundation History

Sasakawa Health Foundation (SHF) was established in 1974 as Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation with the goal of eradicating Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy, from the world. Its co-founders were Mr. Ryoichi Sasakawa (1899-1995), the founder of The Nippon Foundation, who served as SHF’s first president, and Professor Morizo Ishidate (1901-1996), known as the father of chemotherapy for Hansen’s disease in Japan, who became SHF’s first chair.

Since its inception, the foundation has worked to improve health, mainly through projects to combat leprosy, but also to combat parasitic diseases and HIV/AIDS. It has also focused on medical cooperation following the Chernobyl nuclear accident and human resource development in the field of global health.

In 2010, SHF merged with Sasakawa Health Science Foundation, which had been carrying out projects related to the care of the elderly since 1985 under physician Shigeaki Hinohara, and started activities to improve hospice palliative care.

Following its transition from a foundation (a special civil law corporation) to a public interest incorporated foundation in November 2011, and its change of name to Sasakawa Health Foundation in 2019, SHF now focuses on leprosy control and the promotion of community health as the two pillars of its activities. But our philosophy remains unchanged from the day of our founding: “The world is one family and all humankind are brothers and sisters.” Under this banner, we engage in a wide range of activities both at home and abroad, working toward better health and dignity for all.

Ryoichi Sasakawa (First Chair)
Morizo Ishidate (First President)
  • Name changed to the Sasakawa Health Foundation. On1 April 2019, the name was changed from Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation to Sasakawa Health Foundation.
  • Transition to a public interest incorporated foundation On 1 November 2011, the foundation was transferred from a special civil law foundation to a public interest incorporated foundation.
  • Damian Dutton Award (The Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation) The Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation received the award in recognition of their contribution to solving the leprosy problem.
  • Damian Dutton Award (Yo Yuasa) Yo Yuasa, then Executive Director of Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, received the award in recognition of his contribution to solving the leprosy problem.
  • Chernobyl Sasakawa Health and Medical Cooperation Project To provide medical examination vehicles and medical equipment, as well as technical assistance to local specialists by Japanese doctors, clinical laboratory technicians and radiologists, in the Soviet Union for the early detection of health problems among the population following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986.
  • Parasitic Disease Control To contribute to the fight against parasitic diseases in Asian and African countries, we began conducting on-site surveys, providing Japanese experts with technical assistance to local specialists, supplying anthelmintics, and conducting medical examinations and surveys.