Global Campaign for Leprosy Eliimination

Leprosy and Challenges of Our Time ハンセン病の「いま」を知る 人類の抱える「差別」という病を克服するために



Leprosy Diagnosis and Treatment

Do you know about leprosy?

Today, there are very few people who know about the disease called leprosy, or Hansen’s disease. For centuries, leprosy was believed to be a punishment from God, or atonement for past evil deeds. Such misperceptions were a cause for discrimination.

Leprosy is Curable

Get the facts straight.
Leprosy is a curable disease.

Leprosy was very much misunderstood in the past. It was thought to be incurable, God’s punishment, and contagious. Therefore isolation was thought be the best way to avoid infection. However in the 1980’s, multidrug therapy (MDT) was found to be effective and with early diagnosis and treatment leprosy became curable without leaving any trace of disability or disfigurement.

Elimination to Date

Every country except Brazil, has achieved elimination

Leprosy elimination is defined by the WHO as reducing the prevalence to less than 1 case per 10,000 population. This clear numerical target made it possible to cure 16 million people and there is just one more country to go until every country in the world achieves elimination on the national level.

122 countries→1 country 16 million people cured

Leprosy and Discrimination

Leprosy elimination work must continue

Although leprosy has been eliminated in all the countries except Brazil, it is only an achievement of the numerical target and does not mean that leprosy has been eradicated.

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.

The Documentary

Turning the Camera on Leprosy Today

We captured the reality that confronts the people affected by leprosy all over the world on camera. People who are isolating themselves from society in fear of discrimination; people recovered from leprosy who are helping to prevent the spread of the disease…
Each life is different, each life is unique.

  • Vol. 10 Talking the First Step

    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.

  • Vol. 9 The Light and the Dark of Leprosy Elimination

    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.

  • Vol. 8 Keep Patients' Memories Alive

    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.

  • Vol. 7 Geneva, Center of World Diplomacy A Second Front for Changing the World

    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.

  • Vol. 6 THINK NOW, THINK LEPROSY in Japan

    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”.

  • Vol. 5 Romania, a village erased from the maps

    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.

  • Vol.4 Kindling Self-Confidence among People Affected by Leprosy

    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.

  • Vol.3 Cries Out The only country where lprosy is not yet eliminated

    “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.

  • Vol.2 Exploring the Border Regions of Nepal Video: 28 minutes 5 seconds

    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.

  • Vol.1 Indonesia A look at the harsh reality facing the island nation. Video: 31minutes49 seconds

    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.


WHO Goodwill Ambassador’s Column

As WHO’s Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, Yohei’s visits continue to touch the hearts of people affected by leprosy around the world. What he sees is leprosy as is today.