Through their experience with leprosy, persons affected by leprosy have obtained knowledge about the disease and its treatment, and the wisdom and the power to overcome the stigma and discrimination associated with leprosy. The World Health Organization (WHO) values this experience in terms of expertise in leprosy control and promotes the participation of persons affected in national leprosy control programs, which require both medical and social approaches. Guidelines for strengthening the participation of persons affected by leprosy in leprosy services were published by WHO in 2012, and are publicly available.
Leprosy has had a low profile within health agendas of late due to the sharp decline in the number of patients over the past three decades. As a result, leprosy control programs are getting weaker, although there are still more than 200,000 persons newly diagnosed with leprosy annually around the world. The participation of persons affected by leprosy in leprosy programs is thus very important in terms of invigorating the programs and sustaining quality leprosy services.
We hope that the cases introduced in this booklet will encourage more persons affected by leprosy to participate in leprosy control programs.