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“Neglected” tropical diseases targeted in Asia

Efforts are being stepped up by the UN to eliminate what it has called “neglected” tropical diseases in South-East Asia.

Diseases such as kala azar, leprosy, yaws, lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis continue to disable, disfigure and kill people in some of the poorest countries in the region.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been meeting in the Timorese city of Dili with health ministry officials from 11 countries to look at ways of eradicating the illnesses.

Leprosy still affecting many people in India and Brazil

Eliminating leprosy and the stigma associated with the disease has been the mission of a Japanese philanthropist for many decades.

In 2001, Yôhei Sasakawa became the World Health Organization (WHO) Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.

In this capacity, he has travelled to many countries, including recent visits to India and Indonesia to raise awareness about treatment options and fight myths that persist about people who’ve contracted the disease.