This year, I have been heartened by the progress made by a number of countries in
eliminating leprosy as a public health problem.
India, which accounts for 70% of the world’s leprosy cases, announced in January that it had
achieved the WHO’s target, as did Angola. In August, Madagascar declared that it too had
reached the threshold. Brazil, which I visited in June, is on track to achieve elimination either at the end of this year or early in 2007. I would like to offer my warm congratulations to all
the people involved who have worked so hard to make this possible.
I now look to the remaining countries —
Mozambique, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nepal — to redouble their
efforts and follow in the footsteps of India, Angola, Madagascar and the rest. I believe
Angola, where I traveled in August, can serve as a good role model.
Before I left Luanda, I encouraged officials there to share Angola’s strategy for success with others yet to reach the goal.
For those who feared that achieving elimination would signal the end of a country’s
commitment to leprosy control, I can say these fears are without foundation. In India and
Angola, the authorities view the achievement as a milestone, not the end of the road.
They have not slackened in their efforts and remain committed to building on their
Just last month I had the opportunity to meet with the president of India, His Excellency
Abdul Kalam. In the course of our conversation, Dr. Kalam expressed his concern over
the continued existence of leprosy colonies in India — there are over 700 — and spoke also
of the need to rehabilitate persons with leprosy-related disabilities.
Breaking down the barriers that separate persons affected by leprosy from mainstream
society and caring for those with medical problems related to the disease are important
themes. As we push ahead toward a world without leprosy, we must do all we can to help
those people whose lives have already been affected.
Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador
Message :Good Job, Keep It Up
From the Editors:DESERVING OF RESPECT