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August 7, 2019

The Continuing Relevance of Leprosy

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology & Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
JAMA Dermatol. 2019;155(10):1107-1108. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.1730

After the introduction of multidrug therapy (MDT) for leprosy in 1981, there was an impressive reduction in the number of cases worldwide, from an estimated 5.2 million in 1985 to 193 069 in 2017.1 Approximately 16 million people were treated with MDT, provided free of cost since 1995 by the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2000, the global prevalence dropped below 1 per 10 000 people, an arbitrarily chosen threshold at which it was believed that there would be too few cases to sustain transmission in the community. This target was subsequently achieved at a national level by nearly all the countries of the world in 2005. It was easy to believe, as many did, that this ancient scourge first described in Indian medical texts dating to about 1500 BCE was in its last throes.

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