Secretariat Director speaks in support of Special Rapporteur’s report to the Human Rights Council

1 July, 2021 | Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy

The Special Rapporteur for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, Alice Cruz, presented her report to the 47th Session of the Human Rights Council on 1 July 2021. The report is titled, “Disproportionate impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on persons affected by leprosy and their family members: root causes, consequences and the way to recovery.” As a program director of The Task Force for Global Health, The Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy’s Secretariat Director, Bill Gallo, spoke in support of the special rapporteur’s presentation. The written statement follows the recorded statement below.

Thank you to the Human Rights Council and to Special Rapporteur Dr. Alice Cruz for her important advocacy work alongside persons affected by leprosy and their family members. My name is Bill Gallo, and I am the Secretariat Director of The Task Force for Global Health’s Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy program.

The Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL) is a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to ending leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. Our vision of “Zero Leprosy” includes no disease, no disability, and no discrimination or stigma. We look to persons affected by leprosy as disease experts, and their lived experiences guide our work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened existing inequities facing persons affected by leprosy. The Special Rapporteur’s report identifies barriers that push persons affected by leprosy into extreme poverty, including barriers to education and employment, lack of access to social protection and information, and discrimination.

Our emergency response efforts, conducted in collaboration with the special rapporteur, identified challenges facing the community at the start of the pandemic and the ongoing work of organizations, including organizations of persons affected, and governments, to address these challenges.

However, we know that there is still much work to be done. To ensure an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must maintain that persons affected by leprosy and their family members are at the center of recovery efforts.