[財団ブログ ― ハンセン病]
Renewing Commitment to a World without Leprosy

As 2013 draws to a close, we’d like to recall an important event that took place in July. That month, a three-day International Leprosy Summit was held in Bangkok, Thailand.
Jointly sponsored by the WHO and The Nippon Foundation, the summit brought together health ministers and health ministry officials from 17 countries that report more than 1,000 new cases of leprosy each year, as well as representatives of the WHO, NGOs and people affected by leprosy. The goal of the summit was to secure renewed political commitment to leprosy control at a time when efforts to tackle the disease appear to have lost momentum.
Thanks to the widespread implementation of multidrug therapy and other leprosy prevention and control approaches implemented over the past 25 years, great strides have been made in reducing the global burden of leprosy in the world. Yet the ongoing occurrence of new cases and the continued existence of hyper-endemic areas of the disease within countries has contributed to the stagnation of leprosy control in recent years.
Added to this has been a growing sense of complacency that comes from seeing leprosy problems as relatively small, resulting in reduced political commitment and relegated priority for leprosy control, as well as decreased resources for dealing effectively with the disease.
These and other points were noted by the ministers of health in the “Bangkok Declaration towards a Leprosy-free World,” which they endorsed with relevant stakeholders and the WHO on July 24, 2013.
In reaffirming their commitment to achieve a leprosy-free world, the participants urged governments to take various actions and pursue specific goals. These include:
- apply special focus on high-endemic geographic areas within countries through vigorous and innovative approaches towards timely case detection and treatment completion aiming to achieve leprosy elimination as a public health problem (a prevalence rate of less than 1 case per 10,000 population) at sub-national levels;
- achieve the global target of reducing the occurrence of new cases with visible deformity (grade 2 disability) to less than one case per million population by the year 2020;
- prevent occurrence of disability through early detection as well as limiting disabilities among already disabled persons;
- involve communities and forums of persons affected by leprosy in the process of strategy formulation and implementation of leprosy care, including physical, social and economic rehabilitation and social integration, as per WHO guidelines; and
- monitor the progress toward attainment of targets through a mechanism at the national level with technical support from the WHO and other relevant partners.
The Bangkok Declaration is a clear statement of intent. In years to come, we hope to look back on it as representing an important milestone on the road to a world without leprosy and its consequences.
See the full text of the Bangkok Declaration here.