Targeted action needed to prevent rise in disabilities for people affected by leprosy – ILEP

December 3, 2016

The International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP) is calling for concerted, targeted action to tackle the rise of disabilities in people newly diagnosed with leprosy.

The call comes as the United Nations commemorates today’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Recent data from the WHO WER 2016 indicate that the number of people being diagnosed with advanced stage leprosy and substantial impairments has increased from previous years.

“Leprosy is a curable disease which can be treated free of charge to all patients, yet millions of people worldwide remain undiagnosed and untreated.” says ILEP CEO, Tanya Wood. “The reasons are complex and many, but some delay diagnosis due to the fear of deep-rooted stigma and discrimination against people affected by leprosy. The rise in people in newly diagnosed with leprosy also suggests that existing healthcare systems are struggling to recognise and treat leprosy early enough to prevent people from becoming disabled.”

The upward trend in numbers of people newly diagnosed with leprosy and newly diagnosed with existing impariments indicates the challenge of diagnosing leprosy early. This warrants special action targeting highly endemic countries and highly endemic pockets within these countries. ILEP is working with partners to scale up and improve leprosy services, notably case detection and treatment completion.

Tanya Wood says, “Earlier this year we saw the new Sustainable Development Goals backed with a rallying cry of ‘leaving no one behind,'” with specific reference to those with disabilities. Read the 17 Sustainable Development Goals here, to better understand this rallying cry.

People affected by leprosy is Myanmar (Burma) are benefiting from a new mobile prostheses clinic; The Leprosy Mission.



“For ILEP, leaving no one affected by leprosy behind means improving leprosy services, tackling the social barriers to lowering transmission and ending legislation that discriminates against people affected by leprosy. Only then will we see an end to disabilities among people affected by leprosy,” Tanya Wood concludes.



Notes to editors

  • National leprosy programmes worldwide recognise that early detection and completion of treatment with multi-drug therapy are the fundamental strategies for reducing leprosy transmission and preventing disabilities. The challenge is implementation of those strategies.
  • ILEP is campaigning for Zero Disabilities, Zero Transmission and Zero Discrimination for people affected with leprosy. Learn more at