In 2016, an International Symposium was held at the Vatican titled “Towards Holistic Care for People with Hansen’s Disease, Respectful of their Dignity.”
Since that symposium, new case numbers remained more or less constant until the coronavirus pandemic, which impacted leprosy services, disrupted case finding and saw a large drop in new cases from 2020. The pandemic made it harder for persons affected by leprosy to receive treatment and disability care, and impacted their day to day lives and the lives of many other socially vulnerable individuals.
Against this backdrop, the Holy See and Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative as well as French Raoul Follereau Fondation and Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau, have agreed to co-host a second international symposium on Hansen’s Disease. At this symposium, we aim to examine the progress made against leprosy over the past six and a half years and the challenges that remain, and provide stakeholders with an opportunity to discuss future actions to realize a world free from leprosy and its associated problems. More broadly, the symposium will also consider how socially vulnerable individuals and communities, especially those consisting of persons with disabilities due to diseases, have been affected by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and propose ways we can work toward a society in which no one is left behind.
In addition, the symposium will also incorporate the launch ceremony for Global Appeal 2023 to End Stigma and Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy.