2 November 2022 · Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy

The Task Force for Global Health Statement at the 73rd WHO Regional Committee Meeting for the Western Pacific

The Global Partnership For Zero Leprosy, a program of the Task Force for Global Health, submitted a statement to the 73rd World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee Meeting for the Western Pacific in October 2022. The statement refers to agenda item 14, “Reaching the unreached.” The statement follows. 

The Task Force for Global Health’s Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy is a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to ending leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. Achieving our vision of zero disease, zero disability, and zero discrimination or stigma requires a comprehensive approach to the medical and social aspects of the disease. The expertise of persons who have experienced leprosy guides the Partnership. Together, we work to advance leprosy research, partner with national leprosy programmes, and increase the resource mobilization and advocacy needed to make zero leprosy a reality.

Leprosy impacts the most impoverished and marginalized communities. Persons affected by leprosy face further marginalization as a result of disease-related discrimination and stigma. They experience barriers to health services, social support, education, and employment, and social inclusion in their communities. This exclusion threatens their mental health and denies them their right to a dignified life.

Leprosy and other NTDs should be prioritized in healthcare services, and leprosy and other NTDs can serve as key indicators of the effectiveness of efforts to achieve universal health coverage. To understand the effectiveness and accessibility of healthcare systems, we can look at the impact of leprosy and other NTDs on marginalized communities.

To achieve zero leprosy and universal health coverage, we must work alongside persons affected by leprosy and other NTDs. Persons affected provide key insight and are vital in the development of effective strategic plans and interventions to end leprosy around the world. 

By strengthening health systems and centering persons affected in our work, we believe we can achieve a world with zero leprosy.