Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen has urged the five remaining localities where leprosy still exists to carry out more drastic measures towards a Vietnam free from leprosy-related issues by the end of 2015.

Speaking at a conference in central Thua Thien-Hue province on July 24 to review the five-year implementation of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme, Xuyen spoke of the achievements of the programme, especially in improving public awareness of the disease.

As of June 2015, 58 out of the 63 provinces and centrally-run cities had eradicated leprosy. The remaining includes Ho Chi Minh City, central Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces and the Central Highlands provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum.

The number of new lepers discovered annually reduced from 374 in 2011 to 187 in 2014 and 86 in the first half of 2015. All patients have received accurate treatment and non-judgmental care.

Yet neglect is being seen in several localities that have already eradicated leprosy. As such, Xuyen requested they maintain their results by mobilising resources to prevent the disease.

Looking forward, the health sector will continue leprosy prevention efforts, speed up communications on healthcare, intensify health check-ups, provide health insurance for lepers and people with disabilities caused by leprosy and maintain international cooperation and scientific research.

The National Leprosy Eradication Programme is also expected to be included in the National Target Programme on Health to affirm the Party’s and State’s diligence and monitor achievements.-VNA