ILEP’s vision is a world free of leprosy. The Triple Zero strategy can contribute to this goal by focusing on three key areas: Transmission, Disabilities and Discrimination. By working towards bringing all of these down to Zero, we will make substantial progress towards that vision. But it is only by tackling all three of these areas that we will succeed as all are interconnected.
Zero Transmission – Stopping Leprosy Transmission
Transmission of leprosy is not well understood but it seems that prolonged exposure to an affected person can result in the onset of the disease.
Stopping transmission is essential to end leprosy. However, many cases continue to go undetected, so the cycle of transmission continues.
Zero Disabilities – Preventing girls and boys from being disabled by leprosy
Untreated, leprosy can affect a person’s nerves and sensation (including the ability to feel pain), so it can cause blindness and lifelong impairments. This results in disabilities which affect the individual, their family and community. This is particularly a concern for children.
Zero Discrimination – Abolishing discriminatory laws and practices
Leprosy is an ancient disease and one that is steeped in myths. To this day people who are affected by it continue to be shunned by their families and communities due to the stigma around the disease.
In many countries there are still discriminatory laws against people affected by leprosy.
While all three “Zeros” are important on their own, they are also inter-related. Early detection of leprosy is key, because it prevents lifelong impairments and stops ongoing transmission. Preventing impairments and disabilities can in turn reduce stigma and discrimination. Likewise, tackling stigma and discrimination may help to reduce transmission (people may be more likely to seek treatment early), and if stigma toward people with impairments is reduced, they face fewer disabling barriers in their communities and societies.
Indeed across all three areas, women and girls experience particular disadvantages. It’s important to recognize that achieving a world free from leprosy will also include paying particular attention to gender concerns across transmission, disabilities and discrimination.