Interpreting data in policy & control: The case of leprosy

04 Jan 2017
Medley GF, Crump RE, Lockwood DNJ

Leprosy is an ancient disease, and the WHO target of elimination by the year 2000 in 1991 was perhaps ambitious [1]. This ambition was mitigated by a redefinition of elimination to 'elimination as a public health problem', which means, in reality, the reduction of disease to very low levels. The formal definition of control (reduction of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity or mortality to a locally acceptable level as a result of deliberate efforts, and continued intervention measures are required to maintain the reduction [2]) recognizes that intervention programmes must be kept going [2],[3],[4]. The redefinition of 'control' to 'elimination as a public health problem' was presumably to develop a political impetus to a defined endpoint; and political impetus is essential for any concerted public health action.