With 38,000 New Cases of Leprosy a Year, Brazil Appeals to UN

A letter signed by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva this week will be made public on Sunday, January 29, in New Delhi, India, by the secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan.

The letter depicts Hansen’s disease, which sometimes is referred to as leprosy, not only as a health problem but as a human rights question as well.

The letter will be endorsed by 12 world leaders, including the Tibetan leader, Dalai Lama, and the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter.

This information was furnished by representatives of the Movement for the Reintegration of Hansen’s Disease Victims (MORHAN), who were received by the President on Friday, January 27 in the Planalto Palace.

"The letter signed by President Lula places Hansen’s disease under human rights protection, that is, it becomes a matter for the United Nations Human Rights Commission to accompany," explained Artur Custódio, one of the members of the movement present at the encounter, together with the singer, Ney Matogrosso.

During the meeting with president Lula, the MORHAN representatives requested support for the dissemination of more information about Hansen’s disease.

"We want the population to know that Hansen’s disease can be cured."

According to Ney Matogrosso, the President promised to examine the creation of an interministerial group, with representatives from various government bodies, to propose measures for combating the disease.

"The goal is to eliminate the disease. We were second in the world ranking, but India got rid of Hansen’s disease. 38 thousand new cases are reported each year in Brazil," Matogrosso observed.

According to information from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), Hansen’s disease is an infectious and contagious infirmity caused by bacilli. It is not hereditary, and its course depends upon the characteristics of the victim’s immunological system.

The main symptoms are: numbness in the tips of the hands and feet, white and reddish spots anywhere in the body, generally with diminished sensitiveness to heat, cold, pain, and touch, and loss of muscle strength.

Agência Brasil

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