Esteemed colleagues,

The International Leprosy Association is proud to announce that the 19th International Leprosy Congress is being organized in the city of Beijing. The China Leprosy Association and the China Association for Science and Technology are dynamically working to prepare a remarkable event to fulfill all expectations.

The numbers of cases of leprosy may have been dramatically reduced over the last decade but new cases will definitely continue to be diagnosed in the decades ahead. The number who have completed MDT is now more than 16 million and many continue to experience continued morbidity and socio-economic challenges.  Therefore, expertise and knowledge will continue to be necessary. For this reason we plan to meet in Beijing to further our understanding of leprosy and to share knowledge and experience.

The present scenario of leprosy worldwide lead us to have as the 19th ILC theme: Unfinished Business: stopping transmission, preventing disability, promoting inclusion, which sounds quite comprehensive and realistic. As a matter of fact, measures to halt the transmission are a must as a primary strategy to cope with the leprosy endemic. Governments of countries with leprosy must commit, politically and financially, to a strategy to reduce transmission. However, it is incumbent upon the scientific community to develop reliable strategic tools to allow them to achieve this goal. Furthermore, improvement of technologies to detect subclinical infection and very early stage cases is a top priority in the research agenda to facilitate the stopping transmission policy, preventing dissemination of the disease and, ultimately, preventing onset of disabilities due to nerve damage. Noteworthy is the need to empower community member in their rights to health through, among other measures, fighting the stigma and discrimination against people affected by leprosy.

There is no doubt that the global picture of leprosy is different now than it was 30 years ago. New approaches and initiatives are necessary to truly eliminate leprosy. The 19th International Leprosy Congress is a privileged occasion for scientists, researchers, health personnel, partner organizations and individuals affected by leprosy to interact, discuss and share experiences in a variety of fields. At the end, all partners will leave with renewed enthusiasm to address these and new challenges towards a world free of leprosy.


Marcos Virmond
President of International Leprosy Association

 

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