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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

NEWS: Culion’s Place in History

Philippine island’s past as leprosy colony recognized with official historical marker.

Dr. Diokno (left) and Dr. Cunanan (right) flank Culion’s historical marker at a ceremony on July 26, 2014.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) unveiled a historical marker on the island of Culion in Palawan Province on July 26. The ceremony was led by NHCP Chair Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno, who formally turned over the administration of the marker to Dr. Arturo C. Cunanan of the Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital.

Beneath the English title “Culion Leper Colony”, as the colony was known, the Tagalog inscription records the colony’s founding in 1904 by the American military government then running the Philippines, the arrival of the first batch of 365 patients on 27 May 1906 and Culion’s growth into the world’s largest leprosarium and center of research on the disease in the 1920s. It also notes the deaths of some 2,000 patients due to starvation and illness in World War II during the Japanese occupation, and the subsequent renaming of the old hospital as the Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital in 2009.



Children of Sungai Buloh follows the fortunes of two women, Noraeni Mohamed and Faridah Haji Kasim, as they go in search of their roots. Both born to Chinese parents in Malaysia’s Sungai Buloh leprosy settlement, they were sent away for adoption but find themselves returning to Sungai Buloh later in life in a moving effort to restore their lost family ties. Produced by the Sungai Buloh Oral History Team and sponsored by Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, the 26-minute documentary is subtitled in Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia and English. For more details, visit


The Leprosy Mission International and the Leprosy Mission Trust India are co-hosting a two-day forum in Delhi, India on September 29 and 30, 2014, under the banner Healing, Inclusion, Dignity — the three issues that people affected by leprosy say are their main concerns, according to the organizers. Participants from over 30 countries are expected to exchange views from a broad range of perspectives. For further information, visit