Leprosy continues to be a concern in Zambia, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya announced on the International Leprosy Day on the last Sunday of January. In 2000, Zambia reached the global target for leprosy control, when the disease’s prevalence fell to less than 1 in 10,000 people being affected (0.67/10,000 – to be exact). At this stage the disease ceases to be a public health problem, according to the World Health Organisation. However, researchers cautioned that poor date recording and surveillance in Zambia could mean that the prevalence data did not reflect the real situation, and the disease is in fact still very present in Zambia. In 2014, Zambia recorded 1,332 new cases of leprosy, and there are pockets of undiagnosed leprosy in all provinces, except Lusaka and Muchinga, according to Chilufya. Government is now seeking to improve surveillance and awareness in the high-risk areas, typically found near large water bodies.

The World Health Organisation categorises Zambia as a country that needs close surveillance to detect any increase in the disease early, along with Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In contrast, there are also countries with a high leprosy burden (DR Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania) and countries with a medium burden (Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi and Niger).

Leprosy

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