Health Surveillance and Disease Management / Communicable Diseases / Leprosy
Global Strategy for Further Reducing the Leprosy Burden and Sustaining Leprosy Control Activities (2006–2010): Operational Guidelines
(World Health Organization, 2006)
2. Integration and referral
3. Case detection
6. Prevention of disability (POD) and self-care
8. Recording, reporting and monitoring
9. Organizational issues for program managers
The Global Strategy for Further Reducing the Leprosy Burden and Sustaining Leprosy Control Activities (2006–2010) has been widely welcomed and endorsed. The overall goal is to provide access to quality leprosy services for all affected communities following the principles of equity and social justice. The purpose of these Operational Guidelines is to help managers of national health services to implement the new Global Strategy in their own countries. This will be done as they develop detailed policies applicable to their own situation, and revise their National Manual for Leprosy Control.
Leprosy services are being integrated into the general health services throughout the world; a new emphasis is given here to the need for an effective referral system, as part of an integrated program. Good communication between all involved in the management of a person with leprosy or leprosy-related complications is essential. These Guidelines should help managers to choose which activities can be carried out at the primary health care level and for which aspects of care patients will have to be referred. This will depend on the nature of the complication and the capacity of the health workers to provide appropriate care at different levels of the health system.
The promotion of self-reporting is now crucial to case detection, as case-finding campaigns become less and less cost-effective. It is important to identify and remove barriers that may prevent new cases from coming forward. The procedures for establishing the diagnosis of leprosy remain firmly linked to the cardinal signs of the disease, but the accuracy of diagnosis must be monitored. The Guidelines suggest a greater emphasis on the assessment of disability at diagnosis, so that those at particular risk can be recognized and managed appropriately.
The treatment of leprosy with MDT has been a continuing success; neither relapse nor drug-resistance are significant problems and the regimens are well tolerated. Clear procedures are given for managing irregular treatment with MDT. Leprosy reactions are a serious complication affecting some patients. The Guidelines addresses this topic, with additional references under Further Reading. A key decision for program managers is to determine how and at which level of the health system leprosy reactions are to be managed in their country. Different countries must develop their own detailed guidelines on this issue.
Prevention of disability (POD) is also described in some detail as there is a need for much greater coverage with basic POD activities. This is an important component of 'quality leprosy services' emphasized in the Global Strategy. Items mentioned under Further Reading will be essential for programs planning to build capacity and increase their service provision in this area.
Rehabilitation may include a medical component (such as reconstructive surgery) but its scope is much broader. It is likely that some people affected by leprosy would benefit from socio-economic rehabilitation (for example, vocational training or a small loan). Staff in the health services need to be familiar with what is being done in the locality, and know how and where to refer people who need these services.
Recording and reporting are essential to maintain quality in any program. The indicators selected in the Global Strategy are useful for monitoring and evaluation, and they determine which data must be recorded. The data needed to monitor POD activities have not been collected routinely in the past, so this represents a significant change: national managers must therefore decide for themselves which indicators will be used to ensure quality as these will vary from country to country.
Program management is a broad subject; the topics covered in this Section are those that are central to the running of integrated leprosy control services, including supervision, supply of MDT, partnerships, training and program evaluation.