The Bergen International Conference on Hansen’s Disease: 150 Years Since the Discovery of the Leprosy Bacillus

(Update 03.06.2023): The recordings from the conference are now available, curtesy of Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative.

International conference, June 21-22, Bergen.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of leprosy, by the Norwegian Dr. Gerhard Armauer Hansen on February 28, 1873. Today, leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is treatable with multidrug therapy (MDT), but if treatment is delayed, leprosy can cause progressive impairment and result in lifelong disability. This contributes to the persistent stigma surrounding the disease and the discrimination that persons affected by leprosy and their families continue to face. Discrimination is also a barrier to new case detection, as it discourages people from seeking treatment.

Many countries and international organizations, led by the World Health Organization are now aiming for zero leprosy—zero disease, zero disability and zero discrimination—by 2030. To achieve this goal will require stakeholders to cooperate closely.

At the same time, there is a growing recognition that the history of leprosy has much to teach us. We need to discuss how to preserve this history and how to take what we have learned from the disease into the future.

To mark this historic anniversary, Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative and the University of Bergen in Norway are organizing The Bergen International Conference on Hansen’s Disease:150 Years Since the Discovery of the Leprosy Bacillus on June 21-22, 2023.

The conference will bring together key leprosy stakeholders from around the world for two days of discussions focused on three pillars: medical, social and historical.

The conference is part of the “Don’t Forget Leprosy/Don’t Forget Hansen’s Disease” campaign launched by Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative in 2021, and follows the 2022 Global Forum of People’s Organizations on Hansen’s Disease held in Hyderabad, India, the 2023 International Symposium at the Vatican on Hansen’s Disease incorporating the Global Appeal 2023 to End Stigma and Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy and 150 anniversary events.

Progress over the last half-century has brought us closer to the goal of a world without leprosy. The Bergen Conference is an opportunity to draw on the knowledge, experience and wisdom of many people at the place where M.leprae was first observed 150 years ago, and to build momentum to complete “the last mile in leprosy”.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Date: June 21-22, 2023
Place: Grieg Hall (Address: Edvard Griegs Plass 1, 5015 Bergen, Norway)
Organizers: Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative, The University of Bergen,
Language: English (Simultaneous interpretation is being coordinated)


Click here to register for the physical conference

Click here to register for live streaming

See the full program on the program overview website. 

The information is also posted at the Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) Initiative website.

Any questions?

For questions and contributions to the scientific program, please contact head of the program committee, Magnus Vollset ( For questions regarding technical or administrative issues, please contact event manager Irmelin Grønevik (