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India--Individuals affected by leprosy gather from 24 countries [2008/03/26]

International Leprosy Conference (2:03)

This past January, over 1,200 people attended the 17th International Leprosy Congress in Hyderabad, India. Participants included representatives from leprosy-related NGOs, governments, and the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, people from twenty-four countries, who have been affected by leprosy, also took part. Held every five years, this International Leprosy Congress was held from January 30 to February 4 and was divided into various sessions—current eradication efforts, human rights, education and enlightenment, psychology, pathology and medicine—all of which featured lively discussions.(Photo: Main venue where 1,200 participants gathered)

January 30, the first day of the congress, was the anniversary of the death of Mahatma Gandhi, and has been designated Leprosy Day in India to commemorate his efforts to control the disease. Special speeches were given on that day by Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation and WHO Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Leprosy, Dr. Klaus M. Leisinger, President and CEO of the Novartis Foundation for SustainableDevelopment , and Mr. Rigo Peeters, President of the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP). Since 2000, the Novartis Foundation has assumed oversight of various activities from the Nippon Foundation, including the provision of free multidrug therapy (MDT) for leprosy. The speakers discussed past activities and future plans. (Photo: Dr. Klaus M. Leisinger, President and CEO of the Novartis Foundation)

Chairman Sasakawa stressed the importance of both disease eradication and restoration of human rights, comparing these efforts to a motorcycle. “The front wheel symbolizes activities to eliminate the disease. The rear wheel symbolizes efforts to end social discrimination. Both wheels need to be the same size.” He also referred to Global Appeal 2008, (held in London on January 28 with the cooperation of international human rights NGOs, which aimed to help restore the dignity of people affected by leprosy) and reported on his appeals to the United Nations Human Rights Council. “Grassroots activities will change society,” said Chairman Sasakawa, seeking to inspire participants. “Those who have been cured of the disease must themselves play an important role.” (Photo: Chairman Sasakawa giving a speech)

Reports indicate that approximately 16 million leprosy patients were cured around the world during the period from 1985 to 2006. Although the number of new patients has declined year by year, around 260,000 new cases of leprosy were diagnosed in 2006. While leprosy has become less common, social discrimination against the disease remains strong. This state of affairs calls for those affected by leprosy to themselves speak out, and for countries to exchange information. (Photo: Chairman Sasakawa and individuals cured of leprosy attending the Congress)
Posted by TNF at 11:20 | Leprosy | URL