Global Appeal 2021~To End Stigma and Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy~

Video Message

WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom, ITUC General Secretary Ms. Sharan Burrow, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Excellencies. I thank you for your support and messages.

I also thank everyone taking part in this launch ceremony for your commitment to ending leprosy discrimination.

A world without leprosy and the stigma and discrimination it causes: this has been my dream for more than 40 years. It has accompanied me all over the world—from jungles to deserts to remote islands.

Leprosy is curable. Treatment is free. Yet discrimination continues. Notions that leprosy is divine punishment, or highly contagious, remain deeply rooted.

This is what motivated me, in 2006, to start the Global Appeal. Persons affected by leprosy are entitled to dignity and respect. They are entitled to their human rights. The stigma and discrimination they face must end.

Since then, the Global Appeal has received support across a broad spectrum, representing politics, business, academia, religion, law, medicine, and more.

This year, I am greatly encouraged to be joined by the ITUC, whose mission is to promote and defend the rights and interests of workers.

The denial of the right to work is one of the most serious issues facing persons affected by leprosy. A diagnosis of leprosy can mean loss of livelihood. But a cure is no guarantee that making a living will be possible — even for someone who is able and willing to work. This is unacceptable.

So, I am hopeful that by launching Global Appeal 2021 with ITUC’s support, we will draw attention to this issue and, by so doing, help protect the rights of workers affected by leprosy.

These are challenging times. Social disparities have become increasingly visible and serious. But there have also been calls for the world to unite and overcome the challenges we face together.

One World One Family. This is the basic philosophy of mine and of The Nippon Foundation. We work with the belief that the entire world is one family, cutting across politics, philosophy, religion, ethnicity, and national borders.

I believe there is no better time to unite as one global family to overcome the current crisis.

And now is also the time to unite, once and for all, to end the stigmatization of leprosy.

Thank you.

*This video message is available at The Nippon Foundation YouTube.