A United Nations human rights expert will examine what lessons can be learned from leprosy when it comes to the world’s Covid-19 recovery, in a special one-off event being hosted by Liverpool Hope University.
The fascinating webinar - Health-related stigma and discrimination: from leprosy to COVID-19 - takes place via Zoom on Wednesday May 12th, at 3pm.
It’s organised by Dr Ana Be Pereira, Lecturer in Education and Disability Studies, and hosted by the School of Social Sciences.
And special guest will be Dr Alice Cruz, the United Nations ‘Special Rapporteur’ for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy.
Dr Cruz is a prominent Portuguese anthropologist with a PhD on sociology and postdoctoral research on human rights.
She has vast experience in oral history, the history of medicine, medical anthropology, sociology of health and illness, science studies, disability studies, human rights and law.
Leprosy, meanwhile, is an age-old disease, described in the literature of ancient civilizations, and currently affecting 209,000 people globally. It is, however, curable using multidrug therapy (MDT).
And here Dr Cruz, a former external professor at the Law School of the University Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador - will talk about the need for an ‘inclusive recovery’ from the global coronavirus pandemic to ensure affected populations aren’t pushed to the margins of the society - using leprosy as a potential guide when it comes to avoiding this social ‘stigma’.
She explains: “How can a disease that is widely - and mistakenly - considered to be a disease of the past facilitate the understanding of, and enable more efficient responses to, the current coronavirus disease pandemic?
“This lecture aims to answer this question by lifting the veil that creates invisibility around many of the health and discrimination issues that impact vulnerable and dehumanized groups and populations.”
The talk will begin with a discussion on why diseases should be looked at as ‘biosocial phenomena framed by politics and power relations’ before discussing why individuals affected are ‘right holders entitled to a voice and a choice’.
Dr Cruz adds: "Firstly, a context for such understanding will be provided by examining the case study of leprosy in light of colonial and current power relations between the Global North and the Global South.
“Secondly, analytical and methodological tools for monitoring discrimination and recognizing people affected by stigmatized diseases as right holders will be discussed, along with the legal, regulatory and policy frameworks that are necessary for enforcing their rights.
“And thirdly, by drawing on the lessons from leprosy, the current coronavirus disease pandemic will be looked at from the viewpoint of those who have systematically been pushed furthest behind and recommendations for an inclusive recovery will be put forward.
“The talk invites the audience to look back to better look ahead and makes the case for the importance of equality and non-discrimination for affected populations.”
** The seminar will take place Wednesday, 12 of May, at 3pm via zoom.
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