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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

NEWS: Scaling the Heights

Mount Everest 'Leprosy Empowerment Expedition' Planned for 2011


Rehabilitation, Empowerment and Development (READ) Nepal and Helping Assist Nepal's Disabled (HAND) USA have announced plans to conduct a joint Mt. Everest Leprosy Empowerment Expedition in spring 2011.

The object of the expedition is to change the behavior and attitude of the community toward leprosy and inspire those affected by the disease by showing that leprosy need not be a barrier to ascending the world's highest mountain.

From 15 people affected by leprosy selected for training, five will be chosen for the Everest expedition. The successful candidates will be accompanied by two sherpas each on the climb.

Brian Smith, the founder of HAND, reached the summit of Mt. Everest in 2007.

READ President Raj Kumar Shah, himself a person affected by leprosy, says, "We want to show that people affected by leprosy are capable of doing anything and that the disease should not act as a physical or mental barrier to achieving one's dreams."

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The winners of the 2009 International Gandhi Award for persons or organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to leprosy work have been announced. They are Vidarbha Maharogi Sewa Mandal, a non-governmental organization in the Amravati District of Maharashtra, India, and Dr. Vijaykumar Pannikar, former team leader of the World Health Organization's Global Leprosy Program.

The award, established in 1986, is in memory of Mahatma Gandhi's service to leprosy and his scientific approach to the disease.