China targets 20 percent reduction in leprosy by 2015

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday released a guideline targeting a reduction of 20 percent in the number of leprosy patients by 2015 compared to 2010.

China reported about 6,700 leprosy cases in 2010, which means the total by 2020 will be limited to within 5,300, according to the 2012-2020 national guideline on eliminating leprosy.

The document, based on a 2011 blueprint designed to see leprosy cases halved by 2020, set down detailed efforts and additional midway goals, including an incidence rate of below one per 10,000 persons across the country by 2015.

Leprosy, an infectious disease that has afflicted mankind for over 4,000 years, is primarily characterized by skin lesions and progressive physical disability, and can cause permanent nerve damage.

The ministry noted that the disease, outbreaks of which are increasingly frequent among the country’s migrant population, and which still has social stigma attached to it in some areas, is “still an obvious healthcare and social problem that hasn’t been relieved much” in recent years.

Stressing prevention and treatment at an early stage, the guideline urges government departments to jointly strengthen leprosy-related knowledge in medical education and improve leprosy prevention and control systems.

A total of 500,000 cases of leprosy have been reported and treated since the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949. More than 200,000 new cases are reported worldwide every year, with China being home to about one-tenth of the world’s infected population.

Xinhua