Promoting Inclusion of People with Hansen’s Disease

Hansen’s disease, a chronic illness affecting the skin and peripheral nerves, has existed in human society since ancient times. While the malady, also known as leprosy, is curable with drug treatments, recovered patients still face lingering stigmas and deeply entrenched prejudices. Various organizations around the world are working toward eradicating discrimination against people with Hansen’s disease.

Hansen’s Disease in Japan: The Lingering Legacy of Discrimination

Twenty years have passed since the repeal of the law mandating isolation of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) patients in Japan. The government has recognized the injustice of the isolation policy and has moved to compensate the victims, but many former patients and family members still sense discrimination and prejudice.

Pope Calls for Committed Fight against Hansen’s Disease

Pope Francis led a large open-air mass at Saint Peter’s Square on June 12 and, making a special reference to people affected by Hansen’s disease, called for a “fruitful commitment” in the fight against the disease.

Toward a Stigma-Free World

An international symposium on Hansen’s disease—also called leprosy—was held at the Vatican in June and attracted some 250 participants from 45 countries. Medical practitioners, recovered patients, and religious leaders discussed the efforts needed to end discrimination and announced their recommendations on ways to restore the dignity of people affected by the disease.

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