The sustained and committed efforts by the national programmes along with the continued support from national and international partners have led to a decline in the global burden of leprosy. It is important that all endemic countries continue to provide innovative solutions to address barriers to timely case detection and treatment completion, to ensure that the current declining trend is sustained.
With the implementation of the enhanced global strategy 2011–2015,1 which emphasizes reducing grade-2 disabilities among new cases, it is essential that national leprosy programmes focus on underserved populations and inaccessible areas to improve access and coverage, including urban centres. Since control strategies are limited, programmes should actively improve case holding, contact tracing, monitoring, referrals and record management. Efforts should also focus on innovative solutions to the remaining challenges to reducing the leprosy burden.
The reduction in leprosy burden needs to be accompanied by a reduction, if not elimination, of the socioeconomic challenges related to the disease. National programmes, with the support of governments and partners, have an obligation to put into practice the principles of the United Nations Resolution on the elimination of stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their families.3 Increased empowerment of people affected by the disease, together with their greater involvement in services and community, will bring us closer to a world without leprosy.
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