What is the global prevalence of leprosy?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
  • Author: Darvin Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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In the 1990s, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a campaign to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem by 2000. Elimination, as defined by the WHO, meant a reduction of patients with leprosy requiring multidrug therapy to fewer than 1 per 10,000 population. This goal was achieved in terms of global prevalence by 2002, and, as of 2015, had been maintained. As of 2015, none of the 122 countries where leprosy was endemic in 1985 still have prevalence rates of greater than 1 per 10,000 population. [2] However, in 2015, much of the disease burden of leprosy was concentrated in India, Brazil, and Indonesia, with India alone accounting for over 60% of cases worldwide as of 2018. [3]

In April 2016, the WHO launched its 2016-2020 strategy, “Accelerating towards a leprosy-free world.” The goal of this strategy was to “reduce the burden of leprosy while providing more comprehensive and timely care following the principles of equity and social justice,” centered around three pillars: strengthening government coordination, stopping leprosy and its complications, and trying to reduce stigma surrounding leprosy. In 2018, the WHO reported 208,619 new leprosy cases, corresponding to a prevalence of 0.2 per 10,000.

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