Now available: The 150th anniversary webcast

February 28th, 1873, was the day Dr. Gerhard Armauer Hansen first wrote in his notebook that he had observed rod-shaped bacteria in samples from patients affected by leprosy. The bacillus in question was later given the name Mycobacterium leprae—leprosy’s causative agent. The discovery is a watershed moment in the history of leprosy and global health—a scientific breakthrough that had enormous consequences.

For the anniversary of Hansen’s discovery, the University of Bergen and the Sasakawa Leprosy Initiative hosted a webcast. Rather than glorifying the past, our goal was to critically assess past achievements, take stock of the situation today, and address the future steps needed to rid the world of this ancient, misunderstood, and treatable disease.

What has happened since the discovery of M. leprae in Bergen 150 years ago, what is happening now, and what does the future hold? How is this history preserved, how it is communicated, and why is the history of leprosy important to its future?

You can watch the webcast below:

Date: February 28, 2023 (This webcast has ended)
Time: 21:00-22:15 (JST), 13:00-14:15 (CET), 12:00-13:15 (UTC)
Length: 75 min.
Language: English
Organizers: University of Bergen, Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative
Moderator: Prof. Magnus Vollset, Associate Professor, History of medicine, History of science, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Norway




  • Welcome remarks
    Prof. Margareth Hagen, Rector, University of Bergen
  • Messages from special guests
    Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
    Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, Ethiopia
  • The deep history of leprosy in Norway – social and cultural history
    Ms. Grete Eilertsen, Curator, Leprosy Museum, Bergen
  • Feidie’s lamentation (song)
    Mr. Lars Foss Sørhus, Actor, Bergen City Museum
  • Discovery: Context and consequences
    Prof. Lorentz Irgens, Emeritus professor, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen
  • Hansen’s trial: Legal perspectives
    Prof. Henriette Sinding Aasen, Professor, Faculty of law, University of Bergen
  • Preservation of material history
    Ms. Stine Dornfest, Conservator, Bergen University Museum
  • Bergen Leprosy Archives
    Mr. Yngve Nedrebø, State Archivist, Bergen State Archives
    Ms. Gina Dahl, Librarian, Bergen University Library
  • Testimonies
    Mr. Kofi Nyarko, President, IDEA Ghana
    Ms. Paula Brandão, Coordinator, Morhan Research Center
  • The decendants today
    Mr. Abbi Patrix, Storyteller and Armauer Hansen’s great grandson
  • Message from WHO Goodwill Ambassador
    Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination/ Chairman, The Nippon Foundation
  • Armauer Hansen today & Welcome to the June conference
    Prof. Gottfried Greve, Vice-Rector, University of Bergen
    Prof. Per Sigvald Bekke, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Bergen

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