End of le­prosy in China seen by 2020

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS CAPSULE -

Af­ter decades of ef­forts against le­prosy, the pos­si­bil­ity of elim­i­nat­ing the dis­ease in China is pos­si­ble by 2020, ac­cord­ing to the head the No­var­tis Foun­da­tion.

Ann Aerts of the No­var­tis Foun­da­tion made the com­ment to China Daily dur­ing the 19th In­ter­na­tional Le­prosy Congress in Bei­jing. The Switzer­land­based No­var­tis health-care com­pany pro­vides anti-le­prosy medicine free.

Le­prosy is in­fec­tious but cur­able. The or­gan­ism that causes it, my­cobac­terium lep­rae, has the unique abil­ity to in­fect the pe­riph­eral nerves in hu­mans, which may re­sult in an in­abil­ity to feel pain in the hands or feet, blind­ness and the loss of fin­gers or toes.

China de­tects around 600 to 700 new le­prosy pa­tients an­nu­ally. Glob­ally, around 211,000 peo­ple were di­ag­nosed with le­prosy in 2015 — an av­er­age of one ev­ery 2.5 min­utes. Of those, 1 in 11 are chil­dren, in­di­cat­ing con­tin­ued trans­mis­sion of the dis­ease.

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