Recent Events

Visit of Mr Yohei Sasakawa WHO Goodwill Ambassador to Sri Lanka


Mr Yohei Sasakawa is Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, a private, non-profit foundation established in 1962 for the purpose of carrying out philanthropic activities, using revenue from motorboat racing. Mr Sasakawajoined the Foundation as a trustee in 1981, served as president from 1989 and became Chairman on 1 July2005.


In the field of public health, The Nippon Foundation has for over 40 years, been closely involved with the global campaign to eliminate leprosy, workingin close co-operation with the World Health Organization, Governments, international organisations and NGOs. Oneprime example of this foundation’s work is the funding, between 1995 and 1999, of free multi-drug therapy (MDT) for every leprosy-affected person in the world.


Mr Sasakawa has described the elimination of leprosy (the oldest disease known to humankind) as his life’s work, and spends one third of every year travelling around the world as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, a position he has held since 2001. As Goodwill Ambassador, he has initiated a campaign to end discrimination and other human rights violations faced by tens of millions of leprosy-affected people around the world. In recognition of the success of this work, Mr Sasakawa was appointed as the Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of People Affected by Leprosy in 2007. In January 2006, Mr Sasakawa launched a Global Appeal to end stigma and discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy, supported by world leaders, to raise international awareness of the problem.


Mr Sasakawa’s personal involvement in this work has earned him international recognition, including the WHO Health for All Gold Medal, the International Leprosy Union’s Millennium Gandhi Award, the Yomiuri International Cooperation Prize and the International Gandhi Award.

Although the Leprosy elimination program achieved its target in 1995 in Sri Lanka, nearly 2,000 cases are still being reported and health institutes seeking support. Mr Yohi Sasakawa, met the Minister of Health Hon Maithripala Sirisena in a meeting held at the Health Ministry on 3rd May 2010 and it was said that the Nippon Foundation in Japan will support the Leprosy prevention program in Sri Lanka.Dr Firdosi Rustom Mehta, WHO Representative to Sri Lanka, Dr Ravindra Ruberu, Secretary to Ministry of Health and Dr Ajith Mendis, Director General of Health Services participated in this discussion.

Mr Sasakawa visited the Leprosy Hospital Hendala too on the same day of 3rd May. Three hundred year old Hendela hospital is considered as an important heritage and will be conserved as a museum. Mr Sasakawa spent time talking and listening to Leprosy patients who are domiciled in this historical hospital.

Mr Sasakawa met His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa , the President of Sri Lanka on 7th May 2010 at Temple Trees and said that the Japanese Government and the Business Community will provide their unstinted support and co-operation towards the efforts of the Sri Lanka Government to build a strong economy after ending the war.

For further information, contact The Nippon Foundation, Media Relations Team

Tel: +81-3-6229-5131 Fax: +81-3-6229-5130 or e mail to