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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

NEWS: Leprosy History as Human Heritage

International symposium to look at ways to accelerate history preservation.


The history of leprosy is often portrayed as a negative legacy of humanity because of the severe stigma and discrimination suffered by people affected by leprosy around the world over many centuries. But there is another side to that history, one that has seen people come through the difficulties and find a way to shine in life.

Despite losing their homes, family and friends, and being cut off from society, there have been individuals who have summoned an inner strength and revealed the power and possibilities that human beings are capable of even in the most desperate of circumstances. This too is the history of leprosy — not a negative legacy of humanity but a valuable asset.

An international symposium on leprosy history as the heritage of humanity is being held in Tokyo at the end of January 2016. The three-day symposium will be attended by delegates from Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Pacific and examine what is being done to preserve the history of leprosy in different countries, who the key players and agencies are, and how to accelerate these efforts before this history is lost.

Famed Japanese animated film director Hayao Miyazaki will address the symposium on the opening day and the symposium will also unveil the newly re-launched International Leprosy Association – History of Leprosy database.

The January 28-30 symposium is being organized by Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation with the support of The Nippon Foundation.


The Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI) is calling for proposals for funding beginning in 2017. The LRI welcomes proposals for all five of its research priorities.

Among these, research to promote prevention of disabilities in persons affected by leprosy is currently underrepresented and applications addressing this subject will be particularly welcome. Applications from or including African countries will be given priority.

The LRI is a joint initiative of five NGOs working in leprosy, including Netherlands Leprosy Relief and American Leprosy Missions.

A Letter of Intent outlining the intended research should reach the LRI secretariat by February 28.

For more information, visit the LRI website at