Miss Cambodia winners join the Leprosy Awareness Campaign
To promote knowledge about the illness and remove the stigma: this is the purpose of the awareness day on Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy, organized by the Ciomal Foundation (Order of Malta International Campaign against Leprosy) on 10 July last in the Kien Khlang rehabilitation centre, in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.
Four former winners of the “Miss Cambodia” beauty contest were present during the day, interacting with women patients, teaching them how to put on make-up and other activities. The purpose was to demonstrate that Hansen’s disease is not an easily transmitted illness and that patients should be treated with dignity and not excluded or isolated, as sadly often happens. Some hundred people, including journalists, participated in the event.
Leprosy is present in 140 countries and continues to strike in certain areas of the globe, in Asia and Africa, where there are half of the world’s infections. Currently three million persons have been mutilated by the disease and are infirm.
For almost 60 years, the Ciomal Foundation has been involved in treating leprosy patients and offers scholarships to children who are either affected by the disease or who have a parent who is, also providing professional health training to the local communities. In the recent 38th session of the United Nations Council for Human Rights in Geneva, the Order’s diplomatic mission confirmed its full support to raise awareness on the disease worldwide to the UN Special Rapporteur on Leprosy.
The Ordre de Malte France has also for decades been in the front line to eradicate the disease and offer treatment and assistance to those affected in some of the countries most at risk such as Benin, Cameroon, Guinea Conakry, Madagascar, Mozambique and Senegal in Africa, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippine islands in Asia.