Progress towards the reduction of the burden of leprosy

Progress towards the reduction of the burden of leprosy: leprosy is curable

Leprosy is a devastating disease that affects mainly the poor and isolated populations living in remote areas, sometimes beyond the reach of health services. Overcrowding in affected communities and inadequate conditions of housing contribute to the persistence of the disease. Clinically, Leprosy is chronic and infectious in nature. The skin and peripheral nerves are usually affected by the disease. The diagnosis is essentially clinical. There are two clinical forms of the disease namely: pauci-bacillary and multi-bacillary. Among communicable diseases, leprosy remains the leading cause of permanent physical disability. Early detection and adequate treatment are the most important interventions to prevent complications and disabilities. Other interventions include management of complications including disabilities and social rehabilitation, and addressing human rights of persons affected by leprosy.

The high stigma attached to the disease leads to frequent complications that end up in disability and ultimately social exclusion with serious socio-economic impact. Through intensied advocacy by many partner organisations and WHO, notably the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for the Elimination of Leprosy, Mr Yohei Sasakawa, a Global Appeal to end Stigma and Discrimination against People affected by Leprosy was launched in 2006; the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2010 and urged countries to take appropriate action.