Leprosy elimination

Epidemiology

Epidemiological situation, burden and distribution

According to official reports received from 138 countries from all WHO regions, the global registered prevalence of leprosy at the end of 2015 was 176 176 cases (0.2 cases per 10 000 people[1]). The number of new cases reported globally in 2015 was 211 973 (2.9 new cases per 100 000 people). In 2014, 213 899 new cases were reported, and in 2013, 215 656 new cases.

The number of new cases indicates the degree of continued transmission of infection. Global statistics show that 199 992 (94%) of new leprosy cases were reported from 14 countries reporting more than 1000 new cases each and only 6% of new cases were reported from the rest of the world.

Pockets of high endemicity still remain in some areas of many countries, including countries reporting less than 1000 new cases. Some of these areas show very high notification rates for new cases and may still witness intense transmission.

Monitoring and evaluation

WHO collects data on leprosy annually between April and June using the following variables:

  • the prevalence of leprosy (defined as the number of patients on treatment at a particular point of time, usually 31 December)
  • new cases detected
  • treatment completion

Since 2015, the following information has been requested: number of children with visible deformities – also called grade-2 disabilities (G2D), at the time of diagnosis; number of foreign-born patients and countries; and whether any discriminatory laws against persons affected by leprosy are present and enacted.