Ceremony held to commemorate Tanzanian control of leprosy problem [2008/01/14]
Presentation of plaque commemorating leprosy control.
(Right: Former Tanzanian Health Minister Anna Abdullah)
On November 12, in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, Yohei Sasakawa, (chairman of the Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination) visited the United Republic of Tanzania. The purpose of the visit was to attend a ceremony commemorating the 2006 elimination of leprosy in the nation. At the ceremony, Sasakawa congratulated all parties involved, calling for further efforts to "free former patients from the discrimination that they continue to face."
Approximately 50 people attended from the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, the WHO, and various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Also in attendance was former Health Minister Anna Abdullah, whose father had suffered from leprosy, and who had worked hard to bring the disease under control.
In December 2006, Tanzania achieved the WHO's leprosy-control target of less than one affected person per 10,000, and today only four countries remain in which leprosy has yet to be controlled: Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and Nepal. (Photo: Visiting with leprosy patients)
Chairman Sasakawa and his team also examined the state of leprosy elimination work on the Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar and Pemba: home to 600,000 and 400,000 people respectively. Although leprosy is under control on a nationwide basis, these islands have yet to achieve WHO’s goal, standing at a figure of 1.4 per 10,000.
However, Zanzibar’s national hospital receives leprosy patients on an outpatient basis, a fact of which the public is well aware. Further, when the delegation visited the village of Mikindani on Pemba, they found that the 30 patients residing there were living with their families. Both situations show a very positive trend regarding social attitudes toward the disease. (Photo: People who once had leprosy, with their families)