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Yohei Sasakawa
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【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (9) Visit to “Leprosy Island” in Palau in 2010 [2021/12/16]
I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to the Republic of Palau in November 2010 as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.

Palau is an island country surrounded by beautiful ocean and coral reef in the western Pacific, with a population of approximately 20,000 people.

I first visited the Belau National Hospital where I met with all six persons diagnosed with leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, in the country in the two preceding years, including a 17-year-old girl.

I learned that the health administration was functioning well. There were amply supplies of multidrug therapy (MDT) and all six had been started on treatment at an early stage of the disease and showed no signs of deformity.

I then took a small boat to Ngerur Island, known locally as “Raibyo-shima,” or “leprosy island” in Japanese. I searched for signs of where people might once have lived, but was not able to find any. Only later would I learn that the remains of some buildings as well as some graves were to be found on the other side of the island.

Former health minister and then foreign minister, Mr. Victor Yano, showed me a 60-page document that explained how when Palau was under Japanese rule in the 1930’s, persons affected by leprosy were isolated on the island, earning it the name “Raibyo-shima.”

I take every opportunity to visit such locations and see for myself how persons affected by leprosy were treated in the past, as I feel a duty to ensure that this history is not forgotten.

In 2019, three new cases of leprosy were detected in Palau. (No data is available for 2020.)

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 17:03 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)