WHO Calls Countries to Urgently Address Gaps in Leprosy Services
In 2021, 140,000 new leprosy cases were reported, with 95 percent of new cases coming from the 23 global priority countries. Of these, 6 percent were diagnosed with visible deformities or grade-2 disabilities (G2D). Over 6 percent of new cases were children under the age of 15, with 368 being diagnosed with grade-2 disabilities.
Dr. Singh further added that the countries must continue to urgently restore leprosy services, with a focus on expanding single dose rifampicin chemoprophylaxis, intensifying active case finding, and ensuring prompt diagnosis and treatment with multidrug therapy.
She stressed on focusing attention on vulnerable populations, including women, children, immigrants, refugees, the elderly, the homeless, residents of deprived leprosy colonies, and those living in geographically inaccessible areas, to end suffering and achieve zero leprosy.
“Over the past decade, strong progress was achieved in several key areas of leprosy prevention, treatment, and control globally, with new child case detection reduced by 27 percent between 2010 and 2019, visible deformities at time of diagnosis reduced by 23 percent between 2014 and 2019 and new child case detection rate reduced to 7.6 per million children as opposed to 9.8 in 2014,” Dr Singh said.
Dr. Singh called for persons affected by leprosy to be engaged, empowered, and involved in all aspects of decision-making, including in service design and delivery, and in social and economic activities. “For this, community-based organizations and networks should be supported, nurtured, and included in decision-making processes while expanding services that strengthen livelihoods,” she underlined.
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