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WHO Warns Battle Against Leprosy Not Over In Western Pacific Region

“The World Health Organization warned Monday that the battle against the age-old scourge of leprosy is not yet over, with more than 5,000 new cases reported yearly in the Western Pacific, where the disease was declared eliminated in 1991,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (2/13). “‘Leprosy is still much alive in the Western Pacific,’ said Shin Young-Soo, WHO regional director,” at a meeting of national leprosy control program managers from the Western Pacific, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C writes, adding, “Policymakers, health workers and the public should not be misled that the disease is totally gone and must continue to fight it, he said.”

The WHO defines leprosy elimination as below one case per 10,000 population, but three countries — Micronesia, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands — have failed to meet that threshold, the news service notes. The Philippines and China report the highest number of cases annually, and about 8,400 people in the region have the disease, according to the news service (2/13).

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