Stories from the UN Archive: Boris Karloff, leprosy and Nigeria

Actor Boris Karloff.

Actor Boris Karloff.

Famous for his role in the film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Mr. Karloff also acted in 130 movies, playing, as he called it, many “spine-chilling roles”.

Stepping out of those roles and into his “real self”, Mr. Karloff worked with UN Radio in 1959 to record a feature on how communities in Nigeria were coping with leprosy.

“If you still think that leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, leaves its victims greatly disfigured and dooms them to that condition, then you should have been with me in the rural clinic in Tiranka, in northern central Nigeria,” he said, over the sound of drumming.

Today, leprosy still occurs in about 120 countries, with more than 200,000 cases reported each year.

It’s a preventable and curable disease according to the World Health Organization (WHO) in its global strategy to eradicate it.

Efforts are now ongoing in every region of the world.

Listen to The Dance of New Life here, part of UN News’s series highlighting epic moments across the UN’s past, cultivated from the UN Audiovisual Library’s 49,400 hours of video and 18,000 hours of audio recordings.

Leprosy prevention programmes are now happening worldwide, including this school campaign in Recife, Brazil. (file)

Leprosy prevention programmes are now happening worldwide, including this school campaign in Recife, Brazil. (file)

Stories from the UN Archive

Join us every #ThrowbackThursday for another dive into history. Meanwhile, check out some classics from the archives:

  • Watch UN Video’s Stories from the UN Archive playlist here
  • Visit our accompanying series here.
  • History buffs can also find classic UN Radio podcasts over the decades here

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