Dr. Samlee cautions against complacency, calls for maintaining awareness.
National leprosy program managers of the WHO's Southeast Asia region met in July in Yangon, Myanmar. In an opening address, Dr. Samlee Plianbangchang, the WHO regional director, acknowledged the successes that had been made against leprosy in the region, but warned against complacency. "We should not be the victims of our own success story," he said, alluding to the region's achievement at eliminating leprosy as a public health problem.
He called for ensuring basic awareness of leprosy among the population and sustaining the skills of peripheral health workers, since detecting cases early and referring them for prompt treatment can help prevent physical deformity. "Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can significantly contribute to reduce stigma and discrimination," he said, "and the achievement will help facilitate the integration of leprosy services into the general health services."
During 2010, the WHO Southeast Asia Region detected 67% of total new cases of leprosy globally.
The Technical Resource Group of India's National Leprosy Eradication Program is due to hold a meeting on 18 August 2011 to announce the results of a national sample survey on leprosy commissioned by the Indian Parliament. The survey has been undertaken to give a clearer picture of the challenges India faces.
The results are expected to highlight the difficult situation in certain parts of the country some six years after India declared it had eliminated leprosy as a public health problem at the end of 2005.
Published by Tokai University Press in Japan in January 2011, Leprosy: Science working towards dignity is intended as a definitive summary of scientific knowledge about leprosy. Based on a book first published in Japanese in 1997 and revised in 2007, Leprosy includes contributions from overseas experts and is aimed at doctors, researchers and students of the disease.
Edited by Masano Makino, Masnori Matsuoka, Masamichi Goto and Kentaro Hatano, it is a technical work published in the hope that its explication of leprosy will help to hasten the end of prejudice and discrimination toward the disease.