The War against Leprosy: Mission to Eradicate Discrimination & Stigma

‘Global Appeal 2017’ Summit

29–30 January 2017, New Delhi


The War against Leprosy:‘Mission to Eradicate Discrimination & Stigma’


From isolation to socio-economic acceptance of the leprosy-affected persons.

The way the world sees the affected people has undergone a paradigm transformation.

image0032New Delhi, 24th January 2017:Leprosy is still a big concern for India as almost 60% of world’s new cases of leprosy are reported to be in India. Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation (SILF) an initiative by Mr Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for leprosy, is organising their annual summit in India this year called the “Global Appeal 2017” Summit in New Delhi on 29 – 30th January 2017, in an effort to end the stigma and discrimination meted out leprosy affected people and their families.

TheSummit also welcomes the participation of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Laosin joining hands and fightingthe inequalities faced by leprosy patients and to call for a global appeal to emancipate all leprosy patients in the world. The Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation works in close tandem with the Government of India and their initiative the National Leprosy Eradication Program.

Speaking about the ‘Global Appeal 2017’ Summit, Smt. Vineeta Shanker, Executive Director of Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation said:“Stigma forces leprosy affected people to be dependent on donations and begging for their survival. There is an urgent need to create mass awareness to ensure that this age-old stigma,for which there is no scientific basis, is eradicated and those affected by the disease and their family members can access opportunities to learn skills that will make then employable.


The Summit is part of the ongoing efforts to make the world a better place for people like Saleem, who was forced to leave his home due to the stigma attached with the ailment, but after a training funded by S-ILF, he now works as a Program Officer at Orient Technologies.”

As part of his multiple global activities for the integration of leprosy affected people, Mr Yohei Sasakawa has since 2006 led a Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy. This appeal has been endorsed by different eminent global individuals and groups. For instance the Global Appealwas launched in New Delhion January 29, 2006 with the backing of world leaders including Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, former US President Jimmy Carter, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Referring to the December 2010 UN resolution on elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, the Appeal declared:“As national human rights institutions, we applaud the UN resolution and condemn all leprosy-related human rights violations. We pledge our support to help bring down the remaining barriers of stigma and prejudice that stand in their way.”

In India, which has the largest pool of leprosy affected people in the world and also accounts for more than half of all new cases each year, Mr Yohei Sasakawa,Chairman, The Nippon Foundation, has taken visionary steps for eradicating the social stigma associated with leprosy by

  • Facilitating the setting up of the National Forum of Leprosy Affected People (now renamed ‘Association of Persons Affected by Leprosy’) – an association of leprosy-affected people living in colonies across the country, so that they could work together in leading the fight for their acceptance in society and inclusion in several welfare schemes of the Government;
  • Establishing the Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation (SILF) in November 2006to provide socio-economic empowerment opportunitiesto leprosy-affected people and their families, especially those living in segregated colonies, sothat they could move out of the demeaning dependence on alms and begging and begin to earn their livelihood with dignity.To ensure sustainability of the move into adignified livelihood, SILF focuses on training and capacity building so that leprosy-affected people and their children are able to learn employable skills for self or wage employment.

SILF works in 18 states across219 leprosy colonies. It has provided financial assistance for setting up micro enterprises to 2044 families. It has also provided scholarships for professional studies and vocational training to more than 600 youth from leprosy colonies.

About Mr. Yōhei Sasakawa

Yōhei Sasakawa is the chairman of The Nippon Foundation and Japan’s Ambassador for the Human Rights of People Affected by leprosy. As chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Japan’s largest charitable foundation, he is seen as a pioneer in guiding public-interest activities by the private sector in modern Japan. Sasakawa received his degree from Meiji University’s School of Political Science and Economics.

After serving as chairman of the Japan Motorboat Racing Association, and as a director of the Japan Foundation for Shipbuilding Advancement (now the Ocean Policy Research Foundation), Yohei Sasakawa was named president of the Nippon Foundation in 1989. In July 2005, he was appointed chairman, following the retirement of Ayako Sono, the previous chair.

image0011About Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation

The Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation’s goal is to increase social acceptance of persons cured of leprosy and their families through the dissemination of scientific information, and to create conditions that will enable them to have equal access to economic opportunities.

The foundation works toward enabling people cured of leprosy to regain independent and sustainable means of livelihood through measures that enhance their skills and abilities to access market opportunities. It does this by helping leprosy-affected people and their children gain access to education, providing them with feasible livelihood training, arranging for microfinance opportunities, and putting self-help groups in touch with other NGOs and charitable organizations.