Health ministers from eight countries and global experts gathered at the International Leprosy Summit in Indonesia from July 24 to 26 to discuss the current leprosy situation and strategies to achieve a leprosy-free world.

The event was jointly organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Japan’s Nippon Foundation.
WHO South- East Asia regional director Samlee Plianbangchang said in his opening statement that the development of multidrug therapy for leprosy in the 1980s has effectively cured 16 million people in the past 20 years.

He, however, warned that there is no room for complacency despite the progress.

The WHO has recorded that globally, a new case of leprosy is detected every two minutes and seven out of every 10 cases affect children.

A lot of misinformation continues to spread about the disease causing many controversies involving stigma in which communities shun patients including those who have been cured, he added.

Samlee Plianbangchang also stressed the need to ensure all persons affected by leprosy have an equal opportunity to be diagnosed early and treated by competent health workers.-VNA