Indian Journal of Dermatology
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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 50  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 240
Whither, "World without leprosy"?

, India

Correspondence Address:
R Ganapati
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How to cite this article:
Ganapati R, Pai V V. Whither, "World without leprosy"?. Indian J Dermatol 2005;50:240

How to cite this URL:
Ganapati R, Pai V V. Whither, "World without leprosy"?. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2005 [cited 2022 Jan 26];50:240. Available from:

India contributes to 77% of active cases of the global pool of active leprosy cases. One to 1.5 million out of 2 to 3 million leprosy-disabled in the world are reported to live in India.[1]

Dr Yo Yuasa, who was the President of the International Leprosy Association for two terms, exhorted everyone to work towards a "world without leprosy" at the International Leprosy Congress, Beijing in 1998. [2]sub He defined this state as " a world without leprosy-related problems, both medical and social, emphasizing the point that it is not the disease per se but its related problems, mostly social but some medical, which require attention".

This slogan was however, pooh-poohed by WHO and the WHO-influenced governments and the program managers, who were obsessed with the term "elimination". The target year was 2000 AD, which is now revised to 2005 AD, when the mean prevalence rate of 1 case per 10,000 population is expected to be reached. Unfortunately by then, the world will also be free from the so-called "leprologists". The enormous funds still needed to do justice to the clinical problems related to leprosy and the rehabilitation of patients would have dried up.

The pool of leprosy patients with reaction, neuritis and its sequelae and those needing rehabilitation contributing to the disease burden in the community will far out number the active cases needing MDT. There is no evidence of secondary level and tertiary level "referral centers" easily accessible to patients living in areas deprived of even basic health services, where the primary health centers with which leprosy is "integrated". Most patients and the health providers are not even aware of the technology known to mankind to prevent the adverse progression of complications and palliative care of irreversible disabilities, let alone the concept of "community-based rehabilitation".

It is time that the people, patients and particularly the donors are made aware that this victory over leprosy is by no means a victory over all leprosy-related problems, as enshrined in the definition of world without leprosy. The donors are made to believe that with the magic word of "elimination", the disease is already at the verge of being wiped out.

Has not the jargon "elimination" of Leprosy outlived its utility? Though it is rather late, should we not eliminate this word and devise a more patient-friendly term that truly reflects the sincere attempt at the eradication of all ills afflicting the persons who have contracted specially the progressive forms of the disease for no fault on their part?

   References Top

1.World Health Organization, The Final push towards Elimination of Leprosy - Strategic Plan 2000 - 2005, CDS/CPE/CEE/2000(1):2.   Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Yuasa Yo, A reflection on 'Working Towards a World Without Leprosy' (a message from the ILA President). ILA Forum, 1998; 5:14.  Back to cited text no. 2    


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