100 Leprosy Free Islands by 2023: Launching of framework for Zero Leprosy in the Maldives
15th July 2019- An ambitious yet attainable plan to achieve 100 Leprosy-free islands by 2023 was jointly launched by Honorable Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen, and Regional Director for WHO South East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, at a ceremony held today. The plan was launched as part of the two-day agenda of Dr Singh’s visit to the Maldives and is the first of such a plan for Leprosy in the world.
A Framework for Zero Leprosy in the Maldives was jointly launched by Honorable Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen, and Regional Director for WHO South East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, at a ceremony held today.
As the first step on this journey ‘Leprosy-free islands initiative’ will be initiated which would conclude covering 157 islands which have not registered a single case of leprosy by 2023. As a result, more than 100 islands would be confirmed leprosy-free.
WHO staff and experts from partner organizations, deliberated with Health Protection Agency and dermatologists to develop a draft for Zero Leprosy Road map with well-defined milestones, the first of its kind in the world.
Speaking at the event Dr Singh was optimistic of this target, as Maldives has previously demonstrated success in eliminating diseases such as Malaria, Filaria, Measles and just this morning; Mother to Child transmission of HIV and Syphilis. “By striving to achieve zero cases – you are making a bold commitment to the principle at the heart of the Global Leprosy Strategy, the Region’s Flagship Priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“Good communication among all involved in case management of a person affected by leprosy is essential when we are targeting zero leprosy. It is also important to identify and remove barriers that may prevent new leprosy cases from coming forward, including stigma.” said Honorable Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen.
For over five years Maldives has been reporting less than ten cases of Leprosy; as a result of Health Protection Agency (HPA)’s impressive track record in implementing the Leprosy Elimination Programme. This success is also a result of high level political commitment, highly motivated and trained health workforce, technical support and guidance from WHO and partners, and the support of our local community
In 2016 WHO launched its "Global Leprosy Strategy 2016–2020: Accelerating towards a leprosy-free world" which focuses on stronger political ownership, enhanced disease control and eliminating stigma and discrimination. The strategy focuses on children as well as on avoiding disabilities. Maldives achieved all the three targets set by Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2020; accelerating towards a Leprosy-free world.
Around the world, WHO’s goal is to further reduce the global and local leprosy burden, and is committed to supporting and ensuring that the Zero-Leprosy dream in the Maldives becomes a reality.