SASAKAWA MEMORIAL HEALTH FOUNDATION
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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

FROM THE EDITORS: A LONG WAY TO GO

While the final form of The Pirates! Band of Misfits won't be known until the film is released, those who campaigned for the removal of a misleading scene about leprosy can take heart from the way the producers responded positively to their efforts.

"We are all bound to fight collectively against the stigma and discrimination toward leprosy-affected people…Hope this unity will continue till the end," wrote V. Narsappa, the Hyderabad-based leprosy activist, in an email to colleagues as the protest movement mounted.

If the outcome of the campaign showed what fighting collectively can achieve, the heated online response to it also revealed the nature of the opponent - namely, the levels of ignorance, indifference and animosity of the public toward leprosy, people suffering from the disease and efforts to "censor" what was "just a joke" in an animated movie.

There may be less leprosy in the world today, but it seems that stigma and discrimination are alive and well - although not, to their credit, in the studios of Aardman Animations.