Despite achieving elimination of leprosy as a public health problem ten years ago (a prevalence of < 1 case per 10 000 population), India still reports the highest number of leprosy cases on the globe by a long shot.

Indian subcontinent/CIA
Indian subcontinent/CIA

In 2015, there was more than 210,000 new leprosy cases reported worldwide and India accounted for some 60 percent of the global case count (127,326). The next closest country was Brazil with just over 26,000 cases.

In fact, India has recorded greater than 125,000 new cases annually since at least 2010.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says high numbers of new cases are detected in pockets of endemicity in India.

Related: India: Top infectious disease concerns in world’s second most populous country

Earlier in September, the National Leprosy Elimination Programme led a leprosy case detection campaign in which 320 million people were screened for the bacterial disease in a door-to-door operation.

Every district reporting at least one case per 10 000 people over the past 3 years was targeted. The main objective was to detect all cases by visiting members of every household and following up with treatment of every member of the family diagnosed with the disease.

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. Leprosy is curable and treatment provided in the early stages averts disability. Multidrug therapy, made available by WHO free of charge to all patients worldwide since 1995, provides a simple yet highly effective cure for all types of leprosy.

Control of leprosy has improved significantly as a result of national and subnational campaigns in most endemic countries. Integration of basic leprosy services into general health services has made diagnosis and treatment of the disease more accessible.