Message for World Leprosy Day 2020 from WHO Goodwill Ambassador [2020/01/29]
On the occasion of World Leprosy Day on January 26 2020, I issued a statement as WHO (World Health Organization) Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, calling upon people all over the world to “have a correct understanding of leprosy and compassion toward those with the disease.”
“Today, through the efforts of many people, leprosy is an easily curable disease. The drugs are distributed free of charge. Early detection and treatment help prevent disability,” I stated.
But “there are still people suffering from the unwarranted discrimination that exists toward leprosy,” I noted, referring to the harsh lives they have had to endure−”abandoned by their families, isolated from society and deprived of their freedom.”
“New cases of leprosy are still being discovered in many countries and regions. But fearful of being diagnosed, people often do not go to a clinic or hospital because they think of leprosy as a shameful disease,” I pointed out, adding “this is one of the biggest obstacles to early diagnosis and treatment.”
“We have not only to fight the disease, but also the prejudice and discrimination that have infected society,” I said.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, “is not a disease of the past. It is an ongoing issue,” I said, inviting as many people as possible to join me on World Leprosy Day, which falls on the last Sunday of every January, “in thinking what we can do to make a difference to the lives of persons affected by leprosy.”
The full statement can be seen HERE.