Leprosy elimination

WHO Seventh Expert Committee (June 1997)

Monitoring, integration, community action, research priorities

Monitoring leprosy elimination

The validity of the essential indicators, reported by the programmes, should be assessed by independent monitors in collaboration with the national programmes, through special activities such as leprosy elimination monitoring (LEM) and Geographic information systems (GIS).

Integration of anti-leprosy activities

Programmes fully-integrated into the general health services would be more appropriate for strengthening leprosy elimination activities than vertical or combined programmes.

Community action and participation

The local community and its leaders will play a key role in improving public awareness about the disease and about the availability of free and effective treatment. Indeed, in some situations they may be the only possibility for delivering MDT drugs, supervising the monthly drug administration and retrieving defaulters, thereby ensuring that the patients complete their treatment. In addition, the prevention of dehabilitation and the rehabilitation of individual persons affected by leprosy depends on the community.

Research priorities

Due to the great success of implementing MDT, there has been a tendency in recent years for support for leprosy research to decline, and this may hamper the development of new technologies which are needed for leprosy elimination and beyond. The Committee recommends that national governments, scientific communities, international organizations and NGOs continue their support to leprosy research, particularly operational research in major endemic countries.