Leprosy elimination

The Global Leprosy Strategy

In 2016 WHO launched the Global Leprosy Strategy 2016–2020: Accelerating towards a leprosy-free world, which aims to reinvigorate efforts to control leprosy and avert disabilities, especially among children still affected by the disease in endemic countries.

The strategy emphasizes the need to sustain expertise and increase the number of skilled leprosy staff, improve the participation of affected persons in leprosy services and reduce visible deformities as well as stigmatization associated with the disease. It also calls for renewed political commitment and enhanced coordination among partners while highlighting the importance of research and improved data collection and analysis.

The key interventions needed to achieve the targets include:

  • detecting cases early before visible disabilities occur, with a special focus on children as a way to reduce disabilities and reduce transmission;
  • targeting detection among higher risk groups through campaigns in highly endemic areas or communities; and
  • improving health care coverage and access for marginalized populations.

Endemic countries need to include other strategic interventions in their national plans to meet the new targets, namely:

  • screening all close contacts of persons affected by leprosy;
  • promoting a shorter and uniform treatment regimen; and
  • incorporating specific interventions against stigmatization and discrimination.