The Rector and the Minister of Health opened the international leprosy conference
Rector at UiB Margareth Hagen and Minister of Health Ingvild Kjerkol were among several introducers when The 2023 Hansen Anniversary opened. Over 30 nations are represented at the commemoration.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Armauer Hansen's discovery of the leprosy bacillus, an international conference will be organized this week in Grieghallen with guests participating from all over the world.
On Wednesday, the conference opened where, among others, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO goodwill ambassador Yohei Sasakawa, professor emeritus Lorentz Irgens and rector Margareth Hagen were among the introducers.
Rector Hagen began by drawing some historical lines and highlighting how leprosy has affected both society and many human lives. She placed particular emphasis on the many prejudices and stigmas that leprosy patients still face and called for joint efforts to overcome the prejudices. At the same time, she thanked everyone who has contributed to the planning of the organization of the international leprosy conference.
A total of 32 countries are represented at the conference, from South America to Africa, Asia and Europe.
60 million cured
WHO goodwill ambassador Yohei Sasakawa recalled how Armauer Hansen's discovery has contributed to over 60 million leprosy patients being cured in the last 40 years.
«Unfortunately, leprosy is still an ongoing disease with over 200.000 new cases annually. We must act immediately», said the ambassador.
Professor Emeritus Lorentz Irgens then made a speech which was followed by a declaration made by Professor Emmet Mc Cormack.
The government was represented at the opening through Minister of Health, Ingvild Kjerkol. Kjerkol recalled that leprosy is a neglected tropical disease many places. The Minister of Health further referred to WHO's "zero leprosy" strategy and emphasized that Norway has made a significant effort in this work.
«But that does not mean that the battle is over», she underlined.
«Feel they need to hide»
During the opening, Yuliati, vice-president of the Indonesian organization PerMaTa, also gave a speech. She herself is affected by leprosy and shared her experiences from Indonesia. Among other things, there are no longer special hospitals for leprosy patients, as is the case in some other countries.
«Many young people with leprosy feel they have to hide and are left behind in all aspects of life. We will continue the fight and hope that you will continue to fight with us», said Yuliati.
Click the link to view the full conference program: https://hansen2023.org/program-overview/