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【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (8) Visit to the Central African Republic in 2011 [2021年05月21日(Fri)]

I would like to share a video taken during my visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) in July 2011 as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.

CAR, a landlocked central African country, is among the poorest nations in the world, according to the UNDP. It was another country that had achieved the WHO’s interim goal of eliminating leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, as a public health problem, reducing the prevalence of the disease to below 1 case per 10,000 population. But the prevalence rate was showing a tendency to rise in some parts of the country−a harsh reality with civil war and poverty devastating its health care system.

Accompanied by the CAR health minister, I visited a village in Lobaye Prefecture, home to Aka pygmies, a semi-nomadic people making a living largely by hunting. I met about 50 people affected by leprosy with many appearing to have disabilities. Speaking as their representative, one man requested appropriate footwear to prevent further disability. Life for these people looked very hard indeed.

In the capital Bangui, I met with the prime minister, the social affairs minister and other officials and was encouraged to hear their desire to eradicate the disease.

I hoped that my visit would prove the catalyst for closer cooperation between the WHO and the health ministry and that the CAR government would press ahead with reducing the prevalence of the disease in Lobaye and other prefectures where leprosy was endemic.

Still mired in the civil conflict, CAR detected 343 new cases of leprosy in 2019, according to WHO.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:18 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (7) Visit to the Former Leprosy Hospital in the U.S. in 2009 [2021年03月25日(Thu)]

I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to Carville, Louisiana, the United States, in October 2009 to tour the National Hansen’s Disease Museum as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.

For over a century, from 1894 to 1999, Carville was the location of the only in-patient hospital in the continental U.S. for treating leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. Some of the most important leprosy research of the 20th century was carried out there, and it formed an extraordinary community of men and women forced into exile in their own country because they had leprosy.

Although the leprosarium has since closed, various buildings remain, and the history of those years is told in the impressive National Hansen’s Disease Museum. It relates patients’ stories, developments in the disease’s treatment, and contains many cultural and medical artifacts from the more than 100-year history of the leprosarium.

During the visit, I talked with a few long-term Carville residents who chose to remain after the leprosarium closed.

Leprosy is now quite rare in the United States, but cases continue to be reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are around 150 to 250 cases of leprosy each year, with most occurring in people who have lived countries where the disease is still endemic.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:07 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (6) Visit to Nepal in 2010 [2020年12月22日(Tue)]

I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to Nepal in January 2010 as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.  
 
During my visit I attended a ceremony in Kathmandu at which Nepal announced that it had officially achieved the goal of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem at the end of 2009, defined by the WHO as a reduction in the prevalence rate to below one case per 10,000 population. 

Among the world’s poorest countries, Nepal was confronting tremendous political and economic challenges as it struggled to find its feet as a republic following years of civil war that brought down the monarchy. That it was able to achieve the elimination goal under these circumstances was all the more praiseworthy.

Ten years on, what is the situation in Nepal today? While remaining below the elimination threshold, the prevalence rate has shown a tendency to increase as the country carries out more active case finding in recent years. At the subnational level, elimination has yet to be achieved in 17 out of 77 districts.

The country has drafted a roadmap to zero leprosy and has plans to align this with the forthcoming WHO global leprosy strategy for 2021-2030.

Nepal remains one of the WHO’s 23 global priority countries for leprosy, reporting 3,844 new cases in 2019.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:24 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (5) Visit to Niger in 2008 [2020年10月30日(Fri)]



I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to the Republic of Niger in August 2008 as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.   

Niger, a landlocked western African country, is among the poorest nations in the world, according to the UNDP. Notwithstanding the many difficulties the country faces, it eliminated leprosy as a public health problem in 2003, reducing prevalence of the disease to below 1 case per 10,000 population.

During my four-day stay, I visited a local hospital and a community of persons affected by leprosy. They sang and danced, giving me a wonderful welcome. I was happy that these scenes were recorded by a TV crew as I believe such positive images go a long way to lessening the stigma and discrimination attached to the disease.

I met with the prime minister, health minister and population minister to encourage Niger to make further progress against leprosy and aim to make it the first country in Africa to eradicate the disease one day. The prime minster was surprised to see me dressed in traditional Niger attire and said it sent the message that “you are thinking about Niger’s problems with us.” He, along with the health minister, voiced support for wiping out leprosy from Niger completely, and promised to redouble efforts to that end.

In 2019, Niger detected 333 new cases of the disease, according to WHO.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:48 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (4) Visit to London to Launch Global Appeal 2008 [2020年10月20日(Tue)]

I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to London in January 2008 as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination to launch the third Global Appeal to end stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy.

At a ceremony held at the Royal Society of Medicine, representatives of nine major international human rights bodies, including Amnesty International, International Save the Children Alliance and Leonard Cheshire Disability, joined The Nippon Foundation in issuing the appeal. Two children from Tanzania who had been successfully treated and cured of leprosy read out the text of the appeal. 

I initiated the annual Global Appeal in 2006. Each year it is joined by influential individuals and organizations so as to involve a broad coalition of interests from both within and outside the leprosy world. The most recent appeal was launched from Tokyo on January 27 this year. The fifteenth in the series, it was endorsed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). 


Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:34 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (3) Visit to Indonesia in 2009 [2020年10月13日(Tue)]

I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to Indonesia in June 2009 as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.   

Indonesia, the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population, eliminated leprosy as a public health problem at the national level in 2000, reducing the prevalence of the disease to less than one case per 10,000 people nine years after the WHO set the target in 1991. However, the situation had since remained static, with little change in either the prevalence rate or the new case detection rate. Similarly, there had been no reduction in the ratio of child cases.


During my three-day stay, I visited a leprosy colony in East Java, which had the highest incidence of the disease in the country, and an elementary school where I sat in on a lesson about leprosy being given by Mr. Ahmad Zainudin, a teacher who spoke from personal experience having himself been cured of leprosy. 


I had met him for the first time in 2007, after which I supported his efforts to set up PerMaTa, an organization of and for people affected by leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. PerMaTa is dedicated to fighting for the rights of its members, raising awareness of leprosy and rooting out stigma, and is active in three of Indonesia’s 34 provinces.

Indonesia continues to tackle leprosy and as of 2019 ranks third after India and Brazil in terms of annual new cases of the disease. 
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:37 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (2) Visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2008 [2020年09月24日(Thu)]

I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 2008 as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.

This visit followed the announcement in 2007 that the central African country had achieved the goal of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem, defined by WHO as a reduction in the prevalence rate to below one case per 10,000 population. However, as with other countries that attained the goal at the national level, DR Congo still had pockets of high endemicity, making it essential that there was no slackening of effort to control the disease. So, the purpose of my visit was to mark the achievement of the milestone of elimination as a public health problem with those responsible and see for myself an area where the prevalence rate remained troublingly high.

Today, the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains one of the WHO’s 23 global priority countries for leprosy, reporting over 3,000 new cases in 2019. 
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 16:08 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (1) Visit to Indian Leprosy Colony with His Holiness the Dalai Lama [2020年09月14日(Mon)]

I am pleased to announce that I am launching a new series on this blog, “Yohei Sasakawa Around the World,” featuring videos shot during my overseas trips as chairman of The Nippon Foundation, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and in other capacities.

For the coming weeks, the series will spotlight my fight against leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, over the years and the discrimination and stigma associated with the disease. As we proceed, I will be posting more videos covering my work in connection with the oceans, Myanmar, scholarship programs and other issues, as and when my overseas travels resume.

The first video was taken during my memorable visit to India in March 2014 when His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama accompanied me to a leprosy colony in New Delhi. I extended an invitation to His Holiness to join me when I called on him in 2012.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 16:08 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)