Photo courtesy of 20th International Leprosy Congress website at

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said there is a need for a global partnership “to create a world without leprosy” as the country makes progress in the fight against the infection.

“Our long history of leprosy care is proof that if we are to achieve these goals, we must work together,” Duque said in a statement sent to Palawan News on Monday.

The statement was in connection with the opening ceremonies of the 20th International Leprosy Congress (ILC) in Manila on September 11-13.

The ILC is conducted every three to five years for over a hundred years, starting in Berlin in 1897. It is organized by the International Leprosy Association (ILA) since its establishment in 1931.

He said the health sector’s dream of a world without leprosy is making headway as the target year 2020 nears.

“The ILC has been hard at work for many years, to realize our ultimate dream of a world without leprosy,” Duque was quoted in a statement from the Department of Health (DOH).

Throughout the years, the course of the DOH’s response to leprosy has transformed from isolation, segregation and quarantine approach, to inclusive client-centered, community-based approaches, the statement said.

Innovations and breakthroughs in multi-drug therapy and New Technologies have paved the way to an enriched quality of life for persons afflicted with leprosy.

“Our success is a story of dignity and triumph of the human spirit, and today, we look back at these past successes to remind us of what we are all here for– to care for and celebrate humanity,” Duque was further quoted.

The health chief recalled the humble beginnings of the Department of Health that can be traced back to the establishment of San Lazaro Hospital dedicated to the care for people afflicted with leprosy back in 1578.

The DOH has now come full circle, as the institutionalization of this people-centered care has paved the way for a system whose desired ending is what is now called Universal Health Care (UHC).

The vision for UHCis tied with the aspirations of 2016 to 2020 Global Strategy for Leprosy and Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

These are: zero stigmas, wherein people affected with leprosy participate and contribute to the daily economic activities of their community; zero disability, wherein cases are recognized, referred, and treated early to prevent the onset of complications brought about by the disease; zero transmission, wherein after prompt initiation of treatment of identified cases, contact tracing is pursued; and, zero diseases, wherein all those identified to have potential risk of exposure to leprosy are given preventative treatment and observed continuously.

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