Global Appeal 2024 to End Stigma and Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy, which was launched at a ceremony at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 31, 2024, was signed by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination Yohei Sasakawa.
The event was co-organized by the World Health Organization and Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative as part of the Initiative’s “Don’t Forget Leprosy” campaign. Since 1975, the Initiative has worked closely with the WHO toward the common goal of eliminating leprosy.
In 2021, the WHO unveiled Towards zero leprosy. Global leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) strategy 2021–2030. This comprehensive strategy takes a holistic approach, recognizing the need to address not only the medical but also the social dimensions of the disease. Among its four main pillars, the strategy places a strong emphasis on combating stigma and ensuring full respect for human rights.
Global Appeal 2024 called for a world where no one is left behind because of a treatable disease, aiming to break the chains of discrimination and ensuring dignity for all.
MC: Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director, Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO
Mr Giuseppe Gibboni and Ms Rino Yoshimoto
Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia and United Republic of Tanzania
Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Somalia and Ethiopia
Moderator: Dr Takahiro Nanri, Executive Director, Sasakawa Health Foundation
Leprosy, a disease with ancient origins, still lingers in our world, primarily affecting countries in Asia, Africa and South America. While it is now curable, the enduring stigma and discrimination surrounding leprosy remain barriers to its elimination. Early detection and treatment can prevent physical impairment, but fear of discrimination often keeps people from seeking help. To envision a world without leprosy, we must collectively reject the discrimination that clings to this disease and reach every case. The COVID-19 pandemic made the fight against leprosy harder by disrupting country efforts to control the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO), Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative (SLI) and partners are working with countries to help rebuild these national efforts and ensure better access to care for all. Our greatest ally in this endeavour will be a well-informed public.
Here’s how you can help:
• Educate Yourself: Learn the facts about leprosy, its curability, and the importance of early treatment and possible prevention.
• Encourage Treatment Seeking: If you come across a suspected case of leprosy, prompt treatment is vital. Treatment is available free of charge. Encourage people to seek help.
• Reject Discrimination: Treat everyone with compassion and respect, regardless of their health status.
• Spread Awareness: Share accurate information about leprosy and challenge stereotypes within your community.
Together, we can create a world where no one is left behind on account of a treatable disease. Let us break the chains of discrimination, work toward a leprosy-free world, and ensure dignity and care for everyone affected by this disease.