Yohei Sasakawa Receives Health and Human Rights AwardRecognition of activities to eliminate leprosy and discrimination

ICN First Vice President Masako Kanai-Pak (left) presents the Health and Human Rights Award to Yohei Sasakawa, as outgoing ICN President Judith Shamian (right) looks on.

The International Council of Nurses* (ICN), comprising the nurses’ associations of over 130 countries, on May 27 presented its Health and Human Rights Award to Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, and Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy.
The Health and Human Rights Award was established in 2000, and is presented to a person who is not a nurse who has made a humanitarian contribution in the domain of health and human rights. This year’s award is being presented to Mr. Sasakawa in recognition of his more than 40 years of work to eliminate the disease of leprosy as well as the discrimination and violation of human rights faced by persons affected by leprosy and their families, in coordination with the World Health Organization, national governments, international organizations, and NGOs.
The award was presented at the 2017 ICN Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, by ICN First Vice President Masako Kanai-Pak. Upon receiving the award, Mr. Sasakawa expressed his thanks, noting, “I am very encouraged by the support that the International Council of Nurses, as nursing professionals, have shown for this approach. And I am heartened by your determination to not only care for leprosy patients, but to also confront the stigma of leprosy.”
Mr. Sasakawa is the fourth recipient of the Health and Human Rights Award, following former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata (2001), former United Nations’ Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis (2005), and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson (2013).

As WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination since 2001 and Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy since 2007, Mr. Sasakawa has been actively working to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem and end leprosy-related discrimination. Working with the United Nations since 2003, at his urging the 192 member nations of the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution for the “Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members” and associated “principles and guidelines” in December 2010. In addition to his work toward the elimination of leprosy, Mr. Sasakawa’s humanitarian activities encompass a wide range of areas including enhancing the lives of persons with disabilities, support for disaster relief and recovery, and support for ethnic groups in Myanmar.

  • The International Council of Nurses, based in Geneva, is proactively engaged in raising the social and economic status of persons engaged in nursing around the world, and protecting the right of everyone to receive medical care without discrimination.

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