Published: 26/07/2013

At the International Leprosy Summit- Overcoming the Remaining Challenges on the 24th- 26th July 2013, global experts and health ministers from eight endemic countries reaffirmed their commitment to a leprosy-free world.

Since 1995, nearly 16 million people have been cured of leprosy, but rising complacency has led to a stagnation of the detection of new cases of leprosy.

Despite this commitment, the role of NGOs and relevant stakeholders must not be overlooked. In his speech at the summit, the president of the International Federation of Anti Leprosy Associations (ILEP), Mr. René Stäheli acknowledged that “coalition and collaboration is important at all levels.

“No nation, no global health organisation, no pharmaceutical company and no NGO alone can finish leprosy.”

As a member of ILEP, we welcome this commitment to reduce complacency in achieving a leprosy free-world. ILEP members contribute $40-50 million annually to support 800 projects in over 70 countries.

We also welcome commitments to involve people and communities affected by leprosy in decision making processes surrounding leprosy care, including “physical, social and economic rehabilitation and social integration”.

Sarah Nancollas, Lepra’s chief executive, said "giving people affected by leprosy a voice and a space to be heard allows for greater sustainability for future strategies to not only reduce the number of cases, but also the impact of leprosy.

“Beyond the disease there remains huge issues of fear and stigma against people affected by leprosy, even after they have been cured. Additionally, people who have developed visible disabilities lack livelihood opportunities and struggle with some of the most basic daily tasks.”

By collaborating and working together, we can ensure these commitments encompass all leprosy services so we can look towards a future without leprosy and the consequences of leprosy."