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Leprosy and NTDs

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The disease affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. Leprosy is known to occur at all ages ranging from early childhood to old age. Leprosy is curable and treatment during early stages can prevent disability.

Leprosy is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.

Understanding Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of conditions caused by a variety of pathogens (including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins) and associated with devastating health, social and economic consequences. NTDs are mainly prevalent among impoverished communities in tropical areas, although some have a much larger geographical distribution.

It is estimated that NTDs affect more than 1 billion people, while the number of people requiring NTD interventions (both preventive and curative) is 1.6 billion.

The epidemiology of NTDs is complex and often related to environmental conditions. Many of them are vector-borne, have animal reservoirs and are associated with complex life cycles. All these factors make their public-health control challenging.

NTDs include: Buruli ulcer; Chagas disease; dengue and chikungunya; dracunculiasis; echinococcosis; foodborne trematodiases; human African trypanosomiasis; leishmaniasis; leprosy; lymphatic filariasis; mycetoma, chromoblastomycosis and other deep mycoses; noma; onchocerciasis; rabies; scabies and other ectoparasitoses; schistosomiasis; soil-transmitted helminthiases; snakebite envenoming; taeniasis/cysticercosis; trachoma; and yaws.