American Leprosy Missions Extends Reach to 37 Pacific Countries

Philippine Leprosy Expert Seconded to World Health Organization

American Leprosy Missions is bolstering leprosy control programs in 37 countries by formally providing leprosy expertise to the World Health Organization (WHO). In a ceremony on February 14, 2012, in Manila, Philippines, Bill Simmons, President and CEO of American Leprosy Missions, officially seconded Ma. Gemma C. Cabanos, M.D., M.P.H. to the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) for the next two years. Her position as a medical officer based in Manila is funded jointly by American Leprosy Missions and the German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association.

American Leprosy Missions Extends Reach to 37 Pacific CountriesSays Simmons, “At American Leprosy Missions we look forward to being able to help many people affected by leprosy through the work of Dr. Cabanos. By placing leprosy expertise at the Western Pacific Regional Office, we aim to support the WHO and Dr. Shin Young-soo, the WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, in their goals to drive down transmissions, offer effective treatment and care for those with long-term complications.”

As a WHO WPRO medical officer, Dr. Cabanos acts as a regional focal point for leprosy, coordinates with WHO country staff, and supports leprosy reporting, case-finding, training and stigma reduction. Before joining American Leprosy Missions, Dr. Cabanos was executive director of the Philippine Leprosy Mission for seven years. She has extensive experience working at the WHO headquarters in Geneva and the Department of Health in the Philippines.

Prior to the secondment of Dr. Cabanos, the WHO WPRO did not have a doctor proficient in leprosy to support the 37 leprosy program managers in the region. By transferring her expertise to the WHO, American Leprosy Missions is providing crucial support to the leprosy control work in this vast region.

“This is just one step in American Leprosy Missions’ drive to see a dramatic reduction in the number of new leprosy cases around the world,” says Simmons.

About American Leprosy Missions

American Leprosy Missions, based in Greenville, South Carolina, is the oldest and largest Christian organization in the United States dedicated to curing and caring for people affected by leprosy and related diseases. It has projects and partners throughout Africa, Asia and South America. During its more than 100-year history, American Leprosy Missions has provided holistic care to 4 million people around the world including medical treatment and training, Christian outreach, prevention of disability, community development, education assistance and vaccine research.

For Additional Information

Sarah Hesshaus
Communications Manager
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800.543.3135
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