It’s a Friday morning and Dr. Ken Jetton, the only doctor who treats leprosy in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, is seeing a patient recently cured of the disease.
Elizabeth Keller is one of the most senior health officials in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).
She is the current acting chief of Public Health and also the head of the leprosy programme in the island nation’s capital of Pohnpei.
Mayleen Ekiek has been working with the Department of Health in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) for 12 years now. She is the head of the National Leprosy Programme in the Pacific island nation, which still remains one of three, along with the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, that is yet to eliminate leprosy.
Meretha Pierson has been a nurse for the past seven years, working in the government-run leprosy clinic in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands. Her patients come in all ages, from different economic backgrounds and different professions. But, aside from their diagnosis, they all have something else in common: everyone wants to keep their illness a secret.
His multiple awards and degrees aside, Dr. Arturo Cunanan is known as a people’s doctor; one who has profound belief in the human rights of every person affected by Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy.
“More than 50 countries in the world have discriminatory laws against people affected by Hansen's disease. There is also a lot of discrimination in the public administration…and in society," Alice Cruz, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, said in this interview with IPS (in Spanish, with English subtitles).
With the decision to found a regional coalition to promote rights and greater participation in national and international forums and decisions, the First Latin American and Caribbean Assembly of Organisations of People Affected by Hansen's disease, popularly known - and stigmatised - as leprosy, came to an end.
Known scientifically as Hansen's disease, leprosy carries a symbolic burden from the past that people affected by the disease and experts from around Latin America are fighting, including the terminology used.
The First Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of Organisations of People Affected by Hansen's Disease, more widely known as leprosy, seeks to exorcise stigma and discrimination. The meeting has brought together around a hundred activists in Brazil.
As the Executive Director of Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation (SMHF), Takahiro Nanri has been working on the issue of leprosy since 2014. Over the past few years, he has traveled across the world visiting the large number of leprosy projects that SMHF has been supporting and meeting dozens of organisations led by leprosy-affected people.
Discrimination against women who are affected by leprosy or Hansen's Disease is a harsh reality, says Alice Cruz is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.
Organisations of people affected by leprosy in Asia have agreed to form a regional-level secretariat to support national advocacies and represent their collective agenda at a world conference to be held later this year.
Takahiro Nanri is the Executive Director of Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation which has been supporting the global fight against leprosy for almost five decades. Since 2014, Nanri has been leading the foundation’s leprosy projects across the world and has deep insights into the challenges faced by the people affected by leprosy as well as the organisations that work with them.
The tragic tale of Thobias Alexander Manas’s personal experience with leprosy is all too typical.
Kurarenga Kaitire lives in Kiribati—one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations. Already vulnerable to nature, the 29-year-old mother of five has faced a series of vulnerabilities over the past decade, including facing social stigma and domestic abuse.
When Ariel Lazarte from Quezon City, Philippines, was first diagnosed with leprosy in 2014, his life seemed as if it were falling apart. But now more than four years later Lazarte’s life is a huge contrast from the poverty and isolation he experienced as a person affected by leprosy.
Dr. Maria Francia Laxamana is the Assistant Secretary in the Philippines ministry of health. With nearly two decades of work both as a senior government official and also as an expert in several non-government organisations, Laxamana has deep insight into the issue of leprosy in this Southeast Asian nation and the challenges faced by those who are affected by the disease.
Dr Maria Francia Laxamana, assistant secretary of health in the Department of Health, Philippines outlines her recommendations for a leprosy country by 2020.
Jennifer Quimno could put anyone at ease. So when she travels across the Philippines as part of peer to peer programme that helps identify new leprosy cases, people generally allow her to examine them.
Growing up in Kathmandu, Nepal, Amar Bahadur Timalsina wasn’t allowed to attend school as a young boy because he was affected by leprosy. But decades later, after treatment and being able to re-integrate into his community, the boy who was once denied an education is now inspiringly the principal of a school of 400 students.
The stubborn challenge of diagnosis and treatment of leprosy among difficult to reach populations in the Philippines should soon become easier with the rollout of a mobile app connecting field health workers with physicians and clinics.