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Fight against leprosy: Efforts honoured with ICN award

| Updated: May 28, 2017 19:14 IST

New Delhi [India], May 28 (ANI): The International Council of Nurses (ICN) presented its Health and Human Rights Award to Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, at the 2017 ICN Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on May 27. The award was presented in recognition of Sasakawa's contribution to the fight against leprosy and leprosy-related discrimination, and his exemplary achievements in the field of health and human rights. The presentation was part of the 2017 ICN Congress's opening ceremony. ICN First Vice President Masako Kanai-Pak presented Sasakawa with a framed certificate in front of the ICN member nurses who had gathered from around the world. Sasakawa expressed his appreciation and praise for the nursing profession, noting, "I am very encouraged by the support that the International Council of Nurses, as nursing professionals, have shown for this approach. And I am heartened by your determination not only to care for leprosy patients, but also to confront the stigma of leprosy." India has the world's largest number of persons affected by leprosy, and Sasakawa has been a frequent visitor to the country, visiting more than 50 times as part of his work to eliminate the disease. Most recently, he visited the state of Odisha in February 2017 and met the leaders of the organisations supporting leprosy patients, as well as the state health minister and other people involved in leprosy-related issues. These meetings featured constructive discussions on issues including improving the daily lives of persons affected by leprosy and measures regarding special pensions for these people. As WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination since 2001 and Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy since 2007, Sasakawa has been actively working to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem and end leprosy-related discrimination. At his urging in December 2010, the 192 member nations of the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution for the "elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members" and associated "principles and guidelines." In addition to his work toward the elimination of leprosy, Sasakawa's humanitarian activities encompass a wide range of areas including enhancing the lives of persons with disabilities, support for disaster relief and recovery, and support for ethnic groups in Myanmar. The ICN is an international organization comprising the nurses' associations of 132 countries around the world, and is proactively engaged in raising the social and economic status of persons engaged in nursing around the world, and protecting the right of everyone to receive medical care without discrimination. (ANI)