WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Leprosy Bulletin

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No.24 Ambassador's Message :From Manila to the World

Nepal’s peace process is making headway, with elections scheduled for June.

With a return of law and order, a WHO-sponsored seminar last November

held out the hope that eliminating leprosy as a public health problem

within this year is a possibility. Along with the people of Nepal, I yearn for

lasting peace in their country.

Elsewhere, I understand that Brazil is proceeding smoothly toward the

elimination milestone. Meanwhile, when Mozambique’s President Guebuza

visited Japan in January, I lobbied him to make further efforts for

leprosy elimination, and promised that I would make my fourth visit to his country

in May. I am also planning trips to Tanzania and the D.R. Congo. The WHO,

through its Regional Director for Africa Dr. Sambo, is working hard to help the

remaining African countries move beyond elimination. For my part, I am prepared

to go to Africa any number of times to ensure that they succeed. The day when

every country on earth passes the elimination landmark will represent a major step

toward a leprosy-free world. In the meantime, we must also tackle the issue

of discrimination, which continues to blight the lives of people affected by leprosy

and their families. Last year, former US President Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama

and other world leaders joined me in issuing a Global Appeal to end stigma and

discrimination. That appeal has been translated into many languages and is

displayed at venues all over the world. At my initiative, a second Global Appeal

was launched on January 29 in Manila. This time, my fellow signatories were

people affected by leprosy who joined me in issuing a powerful call to end

disease-based discrimination. I believe their involvement will have an enormous

impact and I commend them for speaking out. In the words of Global Appeal

2007 that I signed together with these courageous men and women:

“Silence on this issue is not acceptable. We urge you to join us in the fight to

end this social injustice.”

 

Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador

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