World Leprosy Day: China joins global effort to erase leprosy within generation
Leprosy is preventable and treatable. /CFP
Leprosy is preventable and treatable. /CFP

Leprosy is preventable and treatable. /CFP

The World Health Organization (WHO) called for joint efforts to eliminate leprosy within the generation upon the arrival of World Leprosy Day on Sunday.

This year's theme is "Act Now. End Leprosy," which aims to spread awareness that leprosy "elimination is possible."

"We have the power and tools to stop transmission and defeat this disease," WHO said. "We believe we can be the generation that finally ends the transmission of leprosy – our target is to achieve 120 countries with zero new autochthonous leprosy cases by 2030."

Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases in the world, with at least a 4,000-year history. It is curable with a combination of antibiotics known as multidrug therapy (MDT). The treatment is available for free across the world.

However, about 200,000 people were diagnosed with leprosy each year before COVID-19. The number has fallen by 30 percent because of disruptions caused by the pandemic to leprosy programs, according to WHO.

This year is China's 36th year of effort in preventing leprosy. The nation began MDT treatment in the 1980s, and the incidence rate of leprosy in the country has gradually lowered since then. The recurrence rate of the disease has decreased to 0.03 percent, way lower than the WHO standard of 1 percent.

By the end of 2020, there were less than 2,000 registered leprosy patients in total in China. In 2022, the country had less than 500 new leprosy cases, according to data from a bureau in charge of disease prevention and control under the National Health Commission.

Quick quiz on leprosy
Let's take a quiz to spread awareness on World Leprosy Day!
Is it possible to eliminate leprosy?
1 / 8
How many people are diagnosed with leprosy each year?
2 / 8
Which of the following is true about leprosy?
3 / 8
How is leprosy transmitted?
4 / 8
What are the symptoms of leprosy?
5 / 8
Besides humans, which animal can carry leprosy?
6 / 8
Who is most at risk for leprosy?
7 / 8
What are the signs of advanced leprosy if left untreated?
8 / 8

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