Approximately 775,000 new cases of Leprosy were detected during 2001.

Due in large part to the effort of WHO's Leprosy Elimination Campaign and the availability of effective Multi-Drug Therapy treatment, the disease burden caused by leprosy has diminished significantly in the past twenty years. In 1985, 122 countries were identified in which Leprosy was a major public health concern; at the end of 2002 there were only 14. Elimination, defined as a prevalence rate of less than 1 case per 10,000 has been acheived in all but these 14 countries. The drastic reduction in prevalence over the past twenty years means that 12 million leprosy patients have been cured.

Cases of Leprosy are highly concentrated in six countries. Brazil, India, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, and Madagascar accounted for 90% of the prevalence of the disease in 2002. India alone accounts for 70% of the worldwide prevalence.



Summary of the Global Prevalence of Leprosy by Region

Region Year Prevalence Rate
Africa 2004 0.8 per 10,000
South East Asia 2004 2.46 per 10,000
Western Pacific 2004 0.07 per 10,000
Americas 2004 1 per 10,000
Regional Breakdown:

The African region acheived elimination goal of <1/10,000 in 1999. As of 2004, there were seven countries in this region that had not eliminated leprosy: Mozambique (3.39/10,000), Madagascar (3.36/10,000) Angola (2.84/10,000), Central African Republic (2.59/10,000), Tanzania (1.5/10,000) and Comoros (1.44/10,000) and DR Congo (1.3/10,000).

Southeast Asia

This region has the highest concentration of leprosy cases. The overall prevelance rate for the region is 2.84 but most of the countries in the region have eliminated leprosy. High rates are concentrated in India (2.6/10,000), Nepal (3.1/10,000) and Timor (2.3/10,000), which constitute a large percentage of the population in this region. Furthermore, in localized areas in this region prevalence can get as high as >10/10,000.



Western Pacific

This region has the lowest prevalence overall. The majority of nations in the Western Pacific have virtually no leprosy, however, there are some countries within the region that continue to face leprosy as a public health concern. For example, Marshall Islands (9.09/10,000), Micronesia (5.56/10,000), and Nauru (4.17/10,000), have prevalence rates significantly higher than India.


The Americas

The prevalence rate of this region (1/10,000) suggests that it is right on the cusp of eliminating Leprosy. This is misleading, however, because the vast majority of countries in this region have prevalence rates near zero so, in fact, the American region has virtually eliminated this disease. The region's average is skewed by Brazil, which has a large population and a high prevalence rate of leprosy (4.6/10,000).