When will leprosy be totally eliminated worldwide?

The WHO definition of elimination is “less than one in 10,000 of the total population actively taking leprosy antibiotics in the month of November of a given year”.

Less than a handful of nations report figures above this definition of elimination each year. However, leprosy in India has been technically eliminated according to the WHO definition for several years now, despite 150,000 new cases annually. The WHO numbers also do not include all the leprosy patients experiencing ongoing disease complications who may have already completed antibiotics.

Historically, as a population becomes more developed with people receiving adequate nutrition, housing, sanitation and access to health services, leprosy can mostly disappear within two to three generations (e.g. Europe in the last 150 years, and post-war Japan and South Korea). Multidrug therapy has made tremendous achievements against leprosy. However, antibiotics alone have never been enough for total eradication of any disease.

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