Statistics about leprosy

Accurate recording and reporting of data is a difficult and time-consuming task.

The introduction of free leprosy treatment (multidrug therapy) in the 1980s resulted in a significant decline in people newly affected by leprosy. For example: the number of people newly affected fell from 5.4 million in the early 1980s to 1.7 million in 1994, to 210,671 in 2017. Some facts:

  • Most new cases can be found in India, Brazil and Indonesia: they accounted for 80% of new cases in 2017
  • The detection of leprosy in children shows the continued transmission of leprosy; in 2017 8.8% of new cases was a child
  • The proportion of new cases with grade 2 disabilities (severe impairments) shows the delay in detection of leprosy – people are detected when disabilities have already occurred. In 2017, 5.8% of new cases had grade 2 disabilities

The World Health Organization (WHO) collects and organises information about leprosy from around the world. Accurate and timely recording of data will help us to understand and treat leprosy. Every year in September the WHO publishes its Weekly Epidemiological Record (the WHO WER) that has an overview of statistics about leprosy. Download the latest WHO WER (September 2018) here.

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