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

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


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



Day 0 : June 20 (Tuesday)

19:00-20:00 Evening reception at King Haakon’s Hall – Bergen City

Day 1 : June 21 (Wednesday)

09:00-10:10 Opening session

  • Greetings from Organizers
  • Greetings from Dignitaries
  • Keynote speeches

10:40-12:00 Session 1: Medical Issues

  • Keynote speeches
  • Panel discussion with scientific perspectives


12:00-13:30 Lunch & Poster Exhibition

13:30-14:45 Session 1: Medical Issues (continued)

  • Panel discussion with practical perspectives

15:15-16:35 Session 2: Social Issues

  • Keynote speeches
  • Panel discussion with scientific perspectives

Day 2 : June 22 (Thursday)

09:00-09:05 Reflection of DAY 1

09:05-10:30 Session 2: Social Issues (continued)

  • Panel discussion with scientific perspectives

11:00-11:20 Special Session

11:20-12:40 History preservation

  • Keynote speeches
  • Panel discussion with scientific perspectives

13:40-14:00 Special Session

14:00-15:00 History preservation (continued)

  • Panel discussion with practical perspectives

15:00-15:10 Summary of DAY 2

15:40-16:00 Summary of the Conference & Closing Remarks



For more information about the event:

A detailed program will be posted at a later point in time. 


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 (