On a tiny island in Indonesia, a man ostracized by his own family confines himself to a hut. In the jungles of Cameroon, a woman accused of being cursed by the gods lives in isolation. All over India, people marginalized by society have no choice but to live as beggars.
Leprosy has been one of the most reviled diseases in history. The devastating truth, however, has been hidden from view, relegated to a “world of darkness.”
One man has been travelling the globe in his fight against the disease for over 40 years; Mr. YoheiSasakawa, the 78-year-old WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.
Since Sasakawa began distributing leprosy medication (MDT) free of charge around the world, the number of leprosy patients had declined dramatically: from 5 million in 1985 to less than 200,000 worldwide today. However the drop in numbers demonstrates medical success, society’s fear of the deformed faces and bodies of leprosy patients remains strong and severe discrimination is still prevalent. Sasakawa says, “We’ve reached the 99th mile of a 100-mile long journey against leprosy. But the “last mile” is the hardest to overcome.”
How can we overcome the last mile of this unflinching journey?