Subject: Worldwide Leprosy Elimination Hinges on
By Jason Gale
Worldwide Leprosy Elimination Hinges on
Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Global eradication of
leprosy hinges on
Brazil, Nepal and East
Timor, the only nations still threatened by the disfiguring
disease that's plagued humanity for centuries.
Prevalence in the three countries is more than one case per 10,000
people -- the level above which leprosy, also known as
Hansen's disease, poses a
public health threat
-- the World Health
Organization in Geneva said in a report yesterday. Globally, new
cases fell 4.2 percent to 254,525 last year.
Thirteen years after the WHO began providing a free cocktail of
antibiotics to leprosy patients, the
infections worldwide has plunged by more than two-thirds and at
least 14 million people have been cured of an illness that damages skin,
nerves, limbs and eyes. Still,
about 100 million patients and family members suffer stigma and
social discrimination associated with the disease.
"In spite of the successes achieved, maintaining political interest and
mobilizing the necessary funds to implement activities in the field are
challenges for many national programs as the burden of disease declines
further,'' the United Nations health agency said in the
Record, a public
Brazil, Nepal and East Timor accounted for about 17 percent of new cases
last year and almost a quarter of the new infections reported at the
start of 2008, according to the bulletin. The prevalence of leprosy per
10,000 people is 2.4 in Brazil, 1.18 in Nepal and 1.23 in East Timor,
also known as Timor-Leste.
"Efforts in these countries will continue
to be strengthened in order to help them achieve the elimination goal in
the next few years,'' the WHO said.
Considered by the WHO to be "not
highly infectious,'' leprosy is transmitted via droplets from the
nose and mouth during close and frequent contact with untreated cases,
the agency says.
The disease, recognized in the
of China, Egypt
and India, is cured by so-called multidrug therapy that kills the
Mycobacterium leprae bacterium without inducing resistance.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Gale in Singapore at
Back to August Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu