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Healing, Inclusion, Dignity

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16 October 2014

Micah Network recently promoted the Healing, Inclusion, Dignity Forum, a two-day event hosted by The Leprosy Mission International, a member organisation of Micah Network.

Below is the press release which details some of the content and learnings which came out of this event.

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New Delhi, 1 October 2014

The two-day Healing, Inclusion, Dignity Forum, hosted by The Leprosy Mission International and The Leprosy Mission Trust India, concluded on September 31st, 2014.

The Forum, marking 140 years since the foundation of The Leprosy Mission, was attended by 220 people from more than 30 countries. These included delegates from The Leprosy Mission, partner leprosy organisations in ILEP (International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations), other NGOs, the World Health Organization, and at least 20 people with personal experience of leprosy or disability.

Keynote speeches were from Dr Sumana Barua of WHO (on behalf of the SE Asia Regional Director), Prof Cairns Smith of Aberdeen University, Ms Stuti Kacker (Secretary for Disability Affairs, Government of India) and Mrs Jayashree PK, a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur with personal experience of leprosy. Dr Barua outlined progress towards leprosy elimination and some of the current challenges, while Prof Smith warned delegates of the increasing size of the pool of undiagnosed cases of leprosy and the need for urgent action in case-finding, contact tracing and chemoprophylaxis. Ms Kacker gave ample demonstration of the commitment of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, while Mrs Jayashree gave an insightful personal account of the complex impact of a diagnosis of leprosy on the individual.

More than 60 presenters, from several different organisations, then spoke in a series of concurrent sessions on topics connected to the three themes of healing, inclusion and dignity.

Mr Geoff Warne, General Director of The Leprosy Mission International, described the significance of the three Forum streams. ‘These are key issues for The Leprosy Mission because they are key concerns for people affected by leprosy,’ he said. ‘The ongoing health and disability consequences of leprosy, stigmatisation, social exclusion and loss of dignity and rights are some of the devastating effects of leprosy in the lives of people’. He urged all participants and their organisations to take away with them a serious intent to tackle these issues.

A highlight of the two days was The Leprosy Mission’s Wellesley Bailey Awards, presented at its 140-year celebration dinner. The Awards are given every two to three years to persons demonstrating great courage and achievement in overcoming the challenges of leprosy and making a positive contribution to society. This year’s awardees were Shehu Fada of Nigeria and Matiar Rahman of Bangladesh.

The Leprosy Mission is an international fellowship of partners from 32 countries committed to its vision Leprosy defeated, lives transformed. Prof Cairns Smith, who is also International President of The Leprosy Mission, maintained that defeating leprosy is possible but requires a new major commitment of all partners. Speaking of ‘lives transformed’ he said that applying the tools and resources available, there is large potential to reduce the physical, social and economic impact of leprosy on a generation of affected people.

For more information please visit the Forum website: www.healinginclusiondignity.org.