Yohei Sasakawa had an interview with Mr. Manek, the representative of PerMaTa, a...
Yohei Sasakawa had an interview with Mr. Kofi Nyarko, the President of internati...
Yohei Sasakawa had an interview with Ms. Valdenora Rodriguez, a member of MORHAN...
Report of the 2016 World Forum on Hansen's Disease in South Korea, and Interview...
The Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against Persons Affected by L...
In my work in approaching the UN, there was one thought that was bothering me. S...
Report of "the 19th International Leprosy Congress" at Beijing ・MESSAGE: Fresh R...
Report of the International Symposium "Towards Holistic Care for people with Han...
Launch of "WHO Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2017" ・MESSAGE: The Wheels of a Moto...
It was March 2004 when I was finally given an opportunity to speak at the plenar...
There is very little known about the pathogen of leprosy except that it is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium Leprae. Leprosy is extremely low in infectivity and 95% of the people are immune to the bacteria. Even if contracted, it will be cured naturally and it is rare for the symptoms to appear.
Early symptoms commonly observed are patches that can appear anywhere on the body. They are pale-colored, red or reddish brown and have no sensation.
If untreated, leprosy causes nerve damage and other complications. Patients lose feeling in their hands and feet and become susceptible to injuries that can result in festering wounds or ulcers. These are secondary infections due to other organisms and are not caused by the leprosy germ. Ultimately parts of the body are disfigured or severed. Because of this, leprosy was feared by people for centuries. In many countries patients were isolated and confined in remote places; and were stripped of their identity and given numbers or fictitious names so that people could no longer identify them with their family members.
MDT was developed by the WHO research team in 1981. It is available free of charge anywhere in the world.
From 1985, the prevalence of leprosy has declined as far as 5% of the original 5 million cases to 180,000 cases over the period of 30 years. As of the end of 2010, more than 16 million people have been cured by MDT.
Even in countries that have achieved the elimination target of “less than 1 leprosy case per 10,000 population” at the national level, some countries still have high prevalence of leprosy in the rural regions, districts and sub-districts. These are called “hotspots” or “pockets”. Hotspots still remain in many parts of the world, especially in impoverished areas.
Despite the fact that leprosy can be treated and cured, leprosy is still a cause for discrimination. Many patients as well as their family members are discriminated unjustifiably. We must get the facts straight and courageously stand up against all forms of discrimination.
In September 2010, a resolution to end discrimination against people affected by leprosy and their family members and the attached Principles and Guidelines was adopted unanimously at the United Nations Human Rights Council. IDEA (International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement) and many other organizations around the world are working to end discrimination against people affected by leprosy.
ENAPAL is an organization in Ethiopia of people who have recovered from leprosy. ENAPAL’s primary focus is employment support through microcredits. An increasing number of people who have recovered from leprosy now work and are becoming re-integrated into society. Many, however, still continue to live in poverty without the opportunity to work. We turned our camera on their struggle to return to society.
With policies that are very thorough by international standards, Morocco has succeeded in dramatically reducing the number of patients. However, patients and those who have recovered remain isolated, segregated from family and community. Prejudice and discrimination against leprosy still exist. We turned our camera on the complexity of their situation.
Portugal and Spain hardly see new cases of leprosy today. The people affected by leprosy are aging and the number of survivors continues to decline as the years go by. Leprosaria in these countries are beginning to fulfill different roles as memories of leprosy fades away. We turned our camera on the leprosarium in Portugal and in Spain.
Mr. Yohei Sasakawa who has visited leprosy hospitals and leprosaria in about 70 countries in 50 years has “another special field” to visit every year. That is Geneva, a hub of many international organizations. We turned our camera on Mr. Sasakawa who devotes his efforts to solving issues surrounding leprosy, in Geneva, a city of world diplomacy where health ministers of the world and WHO partners gather together.
Today, 1718 people affected by leprosy reside at 13 national leprosaria in Japan. Their average age is 83.9. As the number of residents declines year by year, the history of this tragedy is fading from public memory. “Global Appeal 2015,” held in Japan, aimed to correct the prevailing understanding of leprosy. Through the camera lens, we searched for the meaning of “THINK LEPROSY NOW”.
Romania has not had a single case of leprosy for the past twenty years. Leprosy is considered a disease of the past, and many people do not even know about it. However, contrary to reality, there are still people affected by leprosy. They have suffered long years of discrimination, living in dark and gloomy shadows of life. We turned our camera on the only facility for leprosy-affected people in Romania, the Tichilesti leprosarium.
India has the highest incidence of leprosy in the world. Every year, 130,000 new cases are reported, and those cured now total 12 million. The majority of them are excluded from society. Supporting each other, they live in leprosy villages, known as colonies. What are their thoughts and feelings as they live in seclusion? We took our camera to the largest colony in India, near Delhi.
“Elimination” of leprosy is defined by the World Health Organization as less than 1 case per 10,000 population. Most countries have achieved elimination with the exception of Brazil. We took our camera there on the plight of people affected by leprosy - people who have been abandoned in the shadows of the development - to find the answer to the problems that lay in Brazil.
Nepal is a country where approximately 80% of land is covered by mountain ranges such as the Himalayas. In areas with poor access to medical services and transportation, the prevalence of leprosy tends to be high. High concentration of patients is also seen along the Indian border. This footage captures the plight of the people affected by leprosy who live in dust-covered remote areas.
Indonesia is the world’s largest island nation with 17,000 islands. In many of the islands, doctors and nurses are in absolute scarcity and the work of finding patients and treating them is lagging behind. There are also many people affected by leprosy—both those under treatment and those who have been cured—who are suffering from discrimination. This documentary focuses on the Island of Papua, which is known to have a particularly large number of patients.