A national council of former Hansen’s disease patients living at sanitariums offered 5 million yen Friday to the Nippon Foundation to be used as a trust fund to fight social prejudice and bias against the disease worldwide.

The donation was handed by Michihiro Ko, secretary general of the 4,300-member council, to Yohei Sasakawa, president of the Nippon Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose activities include international cooperation and maritime development.

In May last year, Sasakawa was chosen as the World Health Organization’s special ambassador of the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Hansen’s Disease.

The global alliance was created by the WHO in 1999.

The trust donation forms part of funds raised by the council from former Hansen’s disease patients at sanitariums.

The former patients want the money they received from the state upon the settlement in December of their class-action suits against the government’s past leprosy quarantine policy to be used for the benefit of such patients worldwide.

A foundation spokesman said the fund will be entrusted to a U.S.-based nonprofit global network of former Hansen disease patients, known as IDEA, or the International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement.

IDEA will use the funds to promote worldwide efforts to eradicate discrimination and bias against sufferers of the disease.

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