World Leprosy Day 2018: There are more leprosy cases around the globe being registered every year. Leprosy is a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities. Leprosy is now mainly confined to tropical Africa and Asia.
World Leprosy Day is observed internationally on January 30 or its nearest Sunday to increase the public awareness of the Leprosy or Hansen’s Disease. The Global Partnership to Stop Leprosy was launched by a host of organisations with the support of the global health body. This day was chosen in commemoration of the death of Gandhi, the leader of India who understood the importance of leprosy. Leprosy is one of the oldest recorded diseases in the world.
WHO has lauded the launch of a global partnership to stop leprosy, saying stronger force with a common vision was needed for speeding up efforts to end the disease. The new partnership, launched ahead of World Leprosy Day, 2018, brings together leading agencies and organisations working towards achieving zero leprosy in various parts of the world.
“A collaborative approach by leading partners to address the remaining challenges with innovative solutions, is expected to provide renewed energy and impetus to accelerate efforts against leprosy,” said Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, who also WHO’s Global Leprosy Programme. “This is a turning point, we must harness this energy to free the world of leprosy forever,” she said.
The partnership aims at supporting roll-out of global policy options, scale up interventions and mainstream leprosy under the aegis of universal health coverage. The Global Partnership to Stop Leprosy is also expected to enhance implementation of WHO’s Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2020 “accelerating towards a leprosy-free world”, which focuses on stronger political ownership, enhanced disease control and eliminating stigma and discrimination.
In 2017, as many as 18,472 new leprosy cases among children worldwide were reported to the World Health Organisation. Globally, elimination of leprosy as a public health problem was achieved in the year 2000 with its prevalence reduced to less than one case per 10,000 population, each year on an average, more than 2,00,000 new cases are reported.
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