Leprosy elimination

Global leprosy update, 2015: time for action, accountability and inclusion

Weekly epidemiological record

WHO/ Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases

Publication details

Editors: Dr E. A. Cooreman/Leprosy
Number of pages: 16 p.
Publication date: 2 September 2016
Languages: English and French
WHO reference number:
No. 35, 2016, 91, 405–420



The introduction of multidrug therapy (MDT) to leprosy programmes in the mid-1980s resulted in a significant reduction in the prevalence of the disease, from 5.4 million cases at that time to a few hundred thousand currently. Noting the substantial decrease, the World Health Assembly in 1991 called for the global elimination of leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2000. Global leprosy strategies were built around this target until the elimination of leprosy as a public health problem was achieved in 2000 at global level and subsequently at national level by most countries in 2005. The 5-year global leprosy strategies since then have focused on the reduction of disease burden measured in terms of new cases with visible deformities or grade-2 disabilities (G2D).

The Global Leprosy Strategy 2016–2020: “Accelerating towards a leprosy-free world” was released in April 2016. The strategy is based on the principles of initiating action, ensuring accountability and promoting inclusion. It is built around 3 pillars: to strengthen government ownership, coordination and partnership; to stop leprosy and its complications; and to stop discrimination and promote inclusion. In endorsing the global strategy, 3 key targets have been agreed by all national programmes: (i) zero G2D among children diagnosed with leprosy; (ii) the reduction of new leprosy cases with G2D to <1 case per million population; and (iii) zero countries with legislation allowing discrimination on the basis of leprosy.

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