Improving early case detection in leprosy: Reports from recent workshops
Early case detection is now seen as one of the most important tasks for leprosy programs. It can improve the experience of people who develop the disease, as early treatment prevents many of the complications that frequently occur in people whose diagnosis is delayed. It is also an important factor in efforts to prevent ongoing transmission, as early treatment reduces the spread to close contacts. Perhaps more importantly, it provides a platform for appropriate management of those contacts, in whom clinical disease can be prevented in a significant proportion by post-exposure prophylaxis.
This Editorial reflects on two recent conferences, one organized by the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL) on the research needs related to early case detection, and the second run by ILEP on the practical aspects of promoting early case detection in the field. With recent developments in mapping and in post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), we have the tools to greatly improve case-finding and work towards zero leprosy.