TOKYO, July 24, 2013 /CNW/ - The International Leprosy Summit, organized
by the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Nippon Foundation of
Tokyo, opened in Bangkok, Thailand, on July 24 with the participation
of health ministers and other representatives from 17 nations reporting
more than 1,000 new cases of leprosy annually. Concerned by the fact
that new cases continue to occur, the participants issued on July 24 a
Bangkok declaration calling for further efforts to overcome the
remaining challenges. Included in the declaration is the ambitious aim
of reducing the occurrence of new cases of the disease with visible
disability to less than one case per million people by 2020.
Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, who has worked for the
elimination of leprosy for more than 40 years, announced in the opening
plenary session that his foundation would donate USD $20 million over
the next five years toward the fight against the disease, and urged
governments concerned to "reaffirm your strong determination to achieve
a leprosy-free world."
The fight against leprosy, one of the most difficult challenges in the
history of public health, has made great strides since multidrug
therapy (MDT) was introduced in the 1980s. During the past two decades,
approximately 16 million patients have been cured. At present, Brazil
is the only nation that has yet to pass the milestone set by the WHO in
1991 of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem, or reducing the
prevalence rate of leprosy to less than one case per 10,000 people at
the national level.
However, despite significant progress, leprosy continues to be a concern
in a number of countries where endemic pockets of the disease remain
and new case detection rates have remained static or are showing signs
of increasing. Also, there is persistent social discrimination against
people affected by leprosy. Touching on these points, Mr. Sasakawa, who
is also WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, voiced a sense
of alarm and warned against complacency.
The summit will take place over three days, during which participants
will review the current leprosy situation, identify the challenges
facing endemic countries and express their resolve to tackle them.
SOURCE: The Nippon Foundation
For further information:
Public Relations Department
The Nippon Foundation