No.3  Ambassador’s Message : Leprosy and Human Rights

We are striving for the elimination of leprosy by the year 2005. ‘’Elimination’’ here is

defined as a prevalence rate of less than one per ten thousand inhabitants of every country

in the world.

However, this number really means nothing more than the elimination of leprosy ends

When We have achieved elimination.

From ancient times, leprosy has been forced into isolation from the rest of society, and

have even exist. I have long thought that discrimination against those affected with

leprosy should be regarded as a human rights issue.

Today there are around 600,000 patients every year in the world who need

treatment for leprosy. However, if you include those who have completed medical

treatment and their families, there are tens of millions of people who are still suffering

from unnecessary discrimination and resulting injustices. They are often denied

equal opportunities for education, marriage and employment, which are open to people

who have not been touched by the disease.

On July 2nd, I visited Geneva and was able to discuss this issue for the first time with

Acting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand

Ramcharan, Mr.Ramoharan was in full agreement that the discrimination these people

have to face is a human rights issue. He then agreed to cooperate with us in an effort to

bring about improvement of the situation. I believe that this is a significant and

historical event.

I am pleased that we have finally been able to make an international appeal for

recognition of the pain and suffering felt by the people affected with leprosy and their

families. Finally, the world is opening up to this problem as a human right issue.

Unless this issue is resolved, our fight will never end. Even after we have reached our goal

in 2005, our journey will continue until the day that leprosy is completely eliminated,

both medically and socially.



Yohei Sasakawa WHO Goodwill Ambassador


No.3 PDF


Message : Leprosy and Human Rights

Report from India

Ambassador’s Journal

Human stories