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ILEP hosts its annual conference in Bern and launches Triple Zero Campaign       

October 10, 2016

  • Despite considerable achievements made in the fight against leprosy over the last 50 years, leprosy has not been eradicated    
  • ILEP launches Triple Zero Campaign in support of global targets “Zero Transmission, Zero Disabilities, Zero Discrimination”

 Bern, Switzerland 11 October, 2016 – the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations, ILEP, is hosting its annual conference this week in Bern and commemorating its 50th anniversary since its foundation in 1966. 100 ILEP Members, partners and guests from all over the world be meeting to discuss critical issues in the fight against leprosy and to celebrate 50 years of achievements.

ILEP was founded in Bern in 1966 out of a need to coordinate the work of anti-leprosy organisations in their activities in leprosy endemic countries; preventing overlap and identifying gaps and partnerships. Today, ILEP is a membership organisation of 15 international NGOs whose outreach spans 67 countries and 700 projects worldwide.

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Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan, said “Please accept our congratulations on the achievement of 50 years in the fight against leprosy!”

President of ILEP, Jan van Berkel, said “Despite the considerable advances that we have made during the last 50 years in the fight against leprosy, the disease is still endemic in 14 countries worldwide*. Over one million people have been diagnosed with leprosy in the last five years.”

In the continued fight against leprosy, ILEP has launched the Triple Zero Campaign “Zero Transmission, Zero Disabilities and Zero Discrimination” in support of the global targets for leprosy. The Campaign is designed to improve communications, advocacy, knowledge sharing and tracking results in relation to each of these targets. The initial concepts and the strategy to guide this process will be shared, discussed and implemented at the ILEP annual conference.

Notes to editors

ILEP is a membership organisation of 15 international NGOs whose outreach spans 67 countries and 700 projects worldwide. ILEP is supported by two advisory boards; a Panel of Women and Men Affected by Leprosy (the Panel) and the ILEP Technical Commission (ITC). In the fight against leprosy, ILEP and its Members work alongside the World Health Organization, the Novartis Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, other NGOs, Governments, Ministries of Health and over 500,000 supporters worldwide.

About public health strategies in leprosy – quick facts  

Leprosy control programmes have shown impressive achievements during the past three decades. With the introduction of multidrug therapy, the registered prevalence of leprosy globally decreased from more than five million people affected in the mid-1980s to around 200,000 in 2015. More than 16 million people affected by leprosy have been treated since then.

While in the year 2000 a milestone prevalence rate was achieved, there are still some countries which are highly endemic or have highly endemic pockets.  As a result, many people still have the disease, and it is being actively passed on to others in their communities.

People continue to be diagnosed with leprosy in over 94 countries worldwide.  Evidence that transmission of the disease still occurs, can be seen in the consistent diagnosis of leprosy in children in many settings. In 2015 alone, 18,976 children have been detected with leprosy. Alarmingly, a proportion of children diagnosed are found to already have visible impairments, which indicates late detection. The numbers of people newly diagnosed with leprosy and people newly diagnosed with visible and substantial impairments highlights the urgent need for special action to detect all people affected with leprosy. This means scaling up and improving leprosy services, notably new case detection and treatment completion.

About countries where leprosy is highly endemic

There are 14 countries worldwide where 95% of people who are newly detected with leprosy live: Bangladesh, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka and United Republic of Tanzania. Brazil, India and Indonesia together account for 81% of new leprosy patients globally. India accounts for 60%.

Sources include: World Health Organization website, World Health Organization Weekly epidemiological record 2 September 2016.