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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

REPORT: Leprosy by the Numbers

The current situation of leprosy in the world based on WHO figures for 2014.

The Global Leprosy Update, 2014, published in the WHO’s Weekly epidemiological record for 4 September 2015, indicates that the disease still exists at least in small numbers of cases in many countries of the world and highlights the need for early detection.

How many new cases of leprosy were there in 2014?

213,899 new cases were reported to the WHO by 121 countries.

How does this compare to 10 years ago?

In 2005, there were 299,036 new cases, making for an average decrease of 2.8% a year over the past decade.

Which countries have the most cases?

India, Indonesia and Brazil each reported more than 10,000 new cases of leprosy and together accounted for 81% of new cases globally. A further 10 countries reported between 1,000 and 10,000 cases — DR Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Of all new cases in 2014, 94% were in these 13 high-endemic countries and the remaining 6% in 108 other countries.

How many new cases were MB cases?

The proportion of multibacilliary (MB) cases of leprosy globally was 60.6%. The five countries with the highest proportions of MB cases were Burkina Faso (94.7%), the Philippines (91.7%), Egypt (91.1%), Argentina (87.9%) and Indonesia (83.4%).

How many new cases were among women?

Globally, 37.7% of new cases were women.

How many new cases were among children?

18,869 new cases were children, or 8.8% of total cases. The five countries reporting the highest percentages of child cases were Micronesia (39.8%), Comoros (34.5%), Yemen (13.3%), Indonesia (11.1%) and Brazil (7.5%).

How many new cases were reported with Grade 2 disability?

14,110 new cases were detected with Grade 2 (visible) in 2014, or 6.6% of total cases. The five countries reporting the highest percentages of G2 cases were Laos (31.7%), Uganda (28.0%), Pakistan (17.6%), Thailand (14.9%) and Colombia (12.2%).

How many relapse cases were reported?

During 2014, 106 countries reported relapses, totaling 1,312 cases.

What do the figures mean?

Trends in new case numbers and new Grade 2 cases indicate stagnation in leprosy control. Child cases and advanced forms of leprosy, i.e. multibacilliary cases, indicates continued transmission of leprosy in the community. The target of reducing Grade 2 cases per 100,000 population by 35%, set by the WHO’s Enhanced global strategy for reduction of the disease burden due to leprosy (2011-2015), will not be met.

What happens next?

“Focusing on 13 high-burden countries that report 94% of global leprosy cases is the obvious choice to achieve immediate and demonstrable results,” writes WER in an editorial note. The WHO is now preparing to launch its new global strategy for leprosy for the years 2016 to 2020.