Over the past couple of weeks, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have hit global news. This publicity been prompted by financial pledges to combat NTDs and the NTD Summit in Geneva, where scientists, investors, pharmaceutical companies and public health workers gathered to define a clear path to meet the 2020 goals.

One such article titled ‘Winning the Endgame: A global attack on long-neglected tropical diseases is succeeding’ written by The Economist shares the progress so far, however, there is little mention of leprosy.

Geoff Prescott, our Chief Executive comments about this article below:

“The recognition of the collaborative effort to eradicate neglected tropical diseases is an extremely positive step in the article titled: Winning the endgame: A global attack on long-neglected tropical diseases is succeeding.

Your statement which questions whether NTDs will be driven out of existence by 2030 emphasises just how important it is to maintain momentum to meet this goal. This is especially the case regarding leprosy.

The premature announcement of the, “elimination of leprosy as a public health problem” in 2000, defined arbitrarily as <1/10000 cases per annum across the world, has inadvertently contributed to the number of cases actually remaining stubbornly high.

Transmission often occurs when clinical symptoms are not apparent and so infections often take decades to show. This results in millions of people with undiagnosed leprosy. It is perhaps therefore no surprise that in some places in the world we are finding leprosy numbers increasing. A renewed push to identify patients through active-case-finding and better surveillance is needed, coupled with more research to develop an effective field-test to diagnose leprosy in those who may be infectious but have not yet developed symptoms.

Whilst we are arguably in the end-game for many NTDs, this is not the case with leprosy. It remains one of humankind’s oldest and most stubborn foes.”

Read the full article here