Leprosy remains endemic in third world countries, with 215,656 new cases reported worldwide at the end of 2013, states the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations. Of all new cases, 81 percent originated in only three countries: Brazil, Indonesia and India. Global reports indicate that 96 percent of new leprosy cases stemmed from a mere 14 countries, most of which are developing areas, states the World Health Organization.
Due to intensive national and subnational campaigns in many endemic countries, leprosy control has improved drastically in recent years, according to the World Health Organization. At the end of 2013, there were 180,618 cases of leprosy officially reported in 103 countries from five WHO regions.
Leprosy can be cured with a multidrug therapy consisting of antibiotics that rapidly kill the harmful bacteria, explains ILEA. Approximately 4 million leprosy patients were cured between the years 2000 and 2013. Certain road blocks make a cure nearly unattainable in third world countries, including a stigma attached to the disease, limited access to health care to diagnose and treat the condition, and limited funds to purchase the requisite medications. Even when patients are cured, leprosy leaves damaging effects, especially in less developed countries. At least three million people are living with disabilities due to leprosy in 2015.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that primarily affects the skin, eyes, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and the peripheral nerves, states the World Health Organization.