Ceremony to Announce “Global Appeal 2015”Call Issued from Japan to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy
The Nippon Foundation held a ceremony on Wednesday, January 27 at the ANA InterContinental Tokyo hotel to announce the 2015 “Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy.”
This is the 10th Global Appeal issued to date, but the first to be announced at a ceremony in Japan. The ceremony was attended by around 260 people, who included such dignitaries as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his wife Akie Abe, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Yasuhisa Shiozaki, former President of Timor-Leste Dr. José Manuel Ramos Horta, and former Secretary-General of ASEAN Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, as well as persons affected by leprosy, both in Japan and around the world, and persons involved in leprosy-related activities. Video messages from current United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet were also presented at the ceremony.
The announcement of this year’s Global Appeal was jointly announced by representatives of the International Council of Nurses and the nursing associations of various countries, reflecting the standpoint of nurses who are waging the battle against leprosy alongside their patients. Ms. Kristie Lane Ibardaloza (a nurse at the Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital in the Philippines) and Mr. Thiago Flores (coordinator of the Movement for the Reintegration of Persons Affected by Hansen’s Disease in Minas Gerais State, Brazil) read out Global Appeal 2015 (PDF/45KB), which included the following:
“As the world’s largest group of health professionals, nurses are committed to alleviating physical and mental suffering and promoting the health of all people, without prejudice. We understand the importance . . . of educating the public about disease—especially a misunderstood disease such as leprosy.”
Chairman Yohei Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation, who has been at the forefront of Global Appeal activities over the past decade in his capacity as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, delivered the following remarks at the ceremony:
“Launching the Global Appeal for the first time here in Japan—a country where leprosy as a disease is no longer considered to be a medical problem —came from our desire to encourage the Japanese public, especially the younger generation, to take notice of the issues surrounding leprosy and to take this opportunity to think about its deeper meaning buried under years of history.”
“Let us hold on to the history of people affected by leprosy, learn from it, and once and for all, make the changes that will last for future generations.”
Prime Minister Abe, in his remarks at the ceremony, referred to the history of prejudice and discrimination in Japan related to leprosy, including the former policy of isolating those with leprosy as well as the violation of the human rights of patients and persons affected by leprosy. “Around two decades ago a great change in policy was enacted by the implementation of measures to restore the dignity of former patients that included apologizing to them and granting compensation,” he observed. Abe also expressed the determination of his own government to address outstanding issues, stating that, “We are undertaking measures aimed at eliminating discrimination and prejudice against the more than 1,700 people still living in sanitariums throughout Japan so they can live carefree, peaceful lives.”
On World Leprosy Day, which was held on January 25 prior to the ceremony, street events were held in six parts of Tokyo to record video messages expressing support to end discrimination against those affected by leprosy. A total of 265 new messages were recorded. Plans also call for side events to be held nationwide up to March 8 to promote a better understanding of leprosy.
Public Relations Section, Communications Department
The Nippon Foundation