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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

NEWS: Global Leprosy Situation Improves

New cases continue to decline from 2001 peak, according to WHO figures.

The number of new cases of leprosy detected globally continued to decline during 2007, down 11,100 cases or 4% from a year earlier, according to figures published by the WHO in the August 15 Weekly Epidemiological Record.

At the beginning of 2008, the registered prevalence of leprosy was 212,802 and the number of new cases detected during 2007 was 254,525. Annual detection is down from a peak of 763,000 in 2001.

Elimination of leprosy at the country level has been attained in all countries in the world except Brazil and Nepal. In addition, there are four countries with an extremely small number of cases or a small population where the prevalence rate is over 1 per 10,000 - Timor Leste, Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Kiribati.

In all, there are 30 countries with more than 500 new cases each year and they account for 97% of the global leprosy problem.


India's elimination of leprosy as a public health problem by December 2005 was a significant milestone. A new publication issued in July 2008 by the WHO's country office for India tells the story of how this was done.

The 86-page booklet sketches the history of leprosy, lays out the medical and scientific facts, describes the inauguration of India's first leprosy control program in 1955 and the launch of the National Leprosy Eradication Program in 1983-84.

Dr. R.K. Srivastava, India's director general of health services, writes in the Foreword: “I am sure this publication will come in handy as a ready reference regarding the fight against the disease in the country, for the future generation of health workers and others involved in leprosy work.”