'Zero Leprosy' and other endgame strategies: Rhetoric vs. realism in public health campaigns.
For over half a century, many public health campaigns related to infectious disease have focused on disease 'eradication,' rather than 'control' or 'management.' In this article, I will focus on the example of a recent global leprosy (Hansen's Disease) control campaign, Triple Zero. Drawing on examples from other public health initiatives, this article explores how the language of 'zero disease' or 'endgame strategies' is appealing to certain audiences but how it can also be misleading and have unexpected and unintended consequences. Depending on the specific characteristics of the disease, the disease vectors, and the circumstances of transmission, 'zero' disease is rarely an achievable goal. In addition, when a disease is said to reach 'zero,' it is important to consider the possible implications for people with social, physical, or emotional sequeläe from the disease and who still may require follow-up treatment and care.