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Usamate, Sasakawa: End Leprosy Stigma

Minister for Health and Medical Services Jone Usamate says the discrimination of patients affected with leprosy continued even after the discovery of a cure. He said this during a press
24 Oct 2015 10:50
Usamate, Sasakawa: End Leprosy Stigma
Minister for Health and Medical Services Jone Usamate (left), with chairman of the Nippon Foundation and World Health Organisation Leprosy ambassador, Yohei Sasakawa, at the Ministry of Health boardroom in Suva yesterday.

Minister for Health and Medical Services Jone Usamate says the discrimination of patients affected with leprosy continued even after the discovery of a cure.
He said this during a press conference at the Ministry of Health boardroom in Suva yesterday.
“The 29th of November will mark the 104th year of Leprosy Control in Fiji since the door to the Makogai Hospital opened on the 29th of November 1911,” he said.
Mr Usamate said the journey from that era to the present has held many challenges particularly lingering ones from surviving leper patients’ perspective.
“The resolution in 1900 by the Geneva Convention to isolate and segregate people affected by leprosy had set in motion a perception of fear of the disease amongst our communities, which then created a lifetime of stigma.
“The isolation aggravated the hardship lepers face with physical disabilities and disfigured appearance,” he said.
“We are fortunate to have the chairman of the Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill ambassador for leprosy elimination Yohei Sasakawa to visit the country after 15 years to come and look into leprosy and discuss it with our people.”
The Nippon Foundation is a private non-profit foundation working to improve public health, embrace social development and self sufficiency, help the disabled and more.
They have been closely involved with World Health Organisation (WHO) in a global campaign to eliminate leprosy.
Chairman of the Nippon Foundation Yohei Sasakawa says the foundation’s overall objectives also include assistance for humanitarian activities and global maritime development.
“I am happy that Fiji is on the level of eradication instead of elimination on the transmission of leprosy and we have to eliminate the stigma as it is found to be one of the main problems all over the world,” he said.
“We have put aside $50million to be distributed around the world in order to help five million leprosy patients to be able to get a free medication,” he said.
Leprosy is the oldest disease known to mankind.

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