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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

NEWS: Presenting a United Front on NTDs

Partners pledge action on neglected tropical diseases at London conference.

A major conference held in London this January saw drug companies, governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and other global health organizations unveil a new coordinated push to eliminate or control 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the end of the decade.

NTDs, which include leprosy, are believed to affect to 1.4 billion people worldwide, many of them among the world's poorest.

Partners put their names to The London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases, which pledges new levels of collaborative effort and tracking of progress.

To guide this effort, the World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled a new strategy, Accelerating work to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases-A roadmap for implementation, that sets targets for what can be achieved by the end of the decade.

"These ancient diseases are now being brought to their knees with stunning speed," said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO.

Concerning leprosy, Novartis will extend its commitment to provide the drugs used in multi-drug therapy (rifampicin, clofazimine and dapsone) to leprosy patients worldwide in "a final push" against the disease.

Among those giving their backing to the initiative is American Leprosy Missions. President and CEO Bill Simmons said in April, "American Leprosy Missions recognizes that only through true collaboration will we be able to conquer leprosy and related diseases."

LEPROSY IN KUMAMOTO, JAPAN

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A book that Japan's National Sanatorium Kikuchi Keifuen published to mark its 100th anniversary in April 2009 was recently released in abridged form in English. Kikuchi Keifuen is located in Kumamoto, where leprosy, or Hansen's disease, has a long history. The book chronicles treatment and care at the sanatorium, the lifestyle of patients and moves to "return Keifuen to society" following the abolition of the Leprosy Prevention Law. It provides fascinating insights into the disease experience in Japan.

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