Making the Impossible Possible
My Work for Leprosy Elimination and Human Rights
The incredible story of a lifetime dedicated to the global eradication of leprosy.
Translated by Lucy North
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that mainly affects the skin and peripheral nerves. Left untreated, it can cause progressive and permanent disability. But a diagnosis of leprosy can have consequences that go far beyond the disease’s physical manifestations. The age-old stigma associated with leprosy can result in severe social discrimination that robs people of opportunities in life and condemns them to society’s margins.
This book is the most detailed account yet of Yohei Sasakawa’s quest, over two decades as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, to work for a world without leprosy and the discrimination it causes. It chronicles his travels to remote communities around the world to hear directly from those affected by the disease, as well as his meetings with policy-makers, government leaders and heads of state to advocate for renewed commitment to the fight against leprosy, including measures to protect the human rights of those it affects. While much progress has been made, completing ‘the last mile’ in leprosy eradication is the hardest part of the journey. Making the Impossible Possible highlights the author’s unflagging resolve to ensure that all involved stay the course.
Yohei Sasakawa is WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Japan and among the largest in Asia. For over forty years, he has led the global struggle to eliminate leprosy and tackle discrimination against those affected by it.