WHO Goodwill Ambassador
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. He was appointed as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador in May 2001.
Sasakawa describes the elimination of leprosy as his life’s work. He spends almost one third of every year visiting endemic countries, meeting with political leaders to seek their political commitment to reduce the leprosy burden, liaising with health authorities and frontline health workers, talking to people affected by leprosy, supporting the reintegration of people affected by leprosy into mainstream society and making himself available to the media in order to raise public awareness of the issue.
Meanwhile, he has initiated campaigns and projects to end discrimination and other human rights violations faced by millions of people affected by leprosy around the world. His active lobbying efforts at the United Nations led to his appointment as Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of People Affected by Leprosy.