TOKYO, Jan. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire — The Nippon Foundation held a launch ceremony in London on January 24 for the “Global Appeal 2013″ designed end stigma and discrimination against people affected by leprosy, calling for the immediate abolition of laws and systems still discriminating against patients and recovered patients despite the fact that Hansen’s disease has became curable.
The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, acting as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, has been making the appeal annually since 2006 with the endorsement of religious, educational and human rights organizations around the world, with the eighth appeal in 2013 supported by the International Bar Association (IBA) and 46 affiliated bar associations in 40 countries and one region.
Nearly 200 people, including members of the bar and a representative of an Indian organization of recovered patients, were present at the ceremony held on the afternoon of January 24 in London. Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, president of the Law Society, told the audience: “It is truly significant that lawyers are taking a major role in the fight against the discrimination and injustice in this area.” Former IBA President Akira Kawamura added, “The outdated attitudes and laws surrounding leprosy cause great suffering to many people. Today the members of legal professions across the world have an opportunity to work together to correct the situation.” The Nippon Foundation’s Sasakawa said, “Wrong laws and rules have helped encourage discrimination and stigma deeply planted in the minds of people,” calling for their immediate repeal.
Over 16 million people affected by Hansen’s disease have been cured over the world after the development of treatment drugs in the 1980s. But they are still faced today with misunderstanding and prejudice formed in the long history of the disease and are seriously discriminated against in marriage, employment and education. In India and some other countries, laws and institutions, which discriminate against patients and recovered patients, still remain unchanged.
Natsuko Tominaga/ Makoto Wada
Public Relations Department
The Nippon Foundation