What is Leprosy?
Leprosy is an age-old disease with a global distribution. In recent decades, public health interventions fed by results of leprosy research have led to dramatic advances in the control of the disease and the management of its complications and long-term consequences.
Euphoric feelings accompanying the success of the global campaign to eliminate leprosy have led to a dramatic reduction in leprosy research in the past 20 years. One major reason is that funds are being diverted to research in other diseases with a higher priority on the global agenda.
Importance for research
Despite significant reduction in both prevalence and incidence of leprosy, substantial numbers of new cases continue to emerge in many countries in Asia, Africa, South America and the Pacific (in total 215,000 in 2013 (WHO)). In addition, several million former patients and their family members continue to be affected by the effects of leprosy, like disabilities, and the social consequences of stigma and discrimination. These problems have only started to attract more serious research attention in recent years. A number of collaboratively funded projects are under way, but much more research is needed to inform policy, implement interventions with known effectiveness on a much wider scale and to develop new interventions.