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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

FROM THE EDITORS: DISCRIMINATION IN HEALTH CARE SETTINGS

Resolution 35/9 was not the only document to come out of Geneva in June that was relevant to persons affected by leprosy. A joint UN statement on ending discrimination in health care settings touches on one of the barriers they sometimes confront when seeking treatment.

Recalling that a central principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to “ensure that no one is left behind,” the joint statement notes that discrimination in health care settings “is directed towards some of the most marginalized and stigmatized populations—the very populations that States promised to prioritize through the 2030 Agenda.” Furthermore, this discrimination “serves as a barrier to accessing health services, affects the quality of health services provided, and reinforces exclusion from society for both individuals and groups.”

One of the “wishes” in Leprosy Wish List (p.7) addresses the issue of accessibility. It asks why those with leprosy should somehow be penalized for contracting a stigmatizing disease through no fault of their own.

Ending discrimination in health care settings will not bring an end to discrimination against every individual affected by leprosy, but it is an essential part of the solution. It is timely to recall these words from Global Appeal 2012 to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy, endorsed by the World Medical Association: “There are many myths and misconceptions about leprosy. As members of the medical profession, we have the first responsibility to set the record straight.”