Leprosy remains a challenge, both for sufferers and the health workers who treat them. There may be persistent nerve damage, and the disease carries a social stigma. Treatment must therefore be broad-based to be successful.
In this article, Diana N. J. Lockwood, consultant leprologist at London's Hospital for Tropical Diseases, and Bhushan Kumar, professor of dermatology at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India, say that the multiple drug regime recommended by the World Health Organisation is still the best treatment. There is, they say, little evidence that other drug combinations and shorter regimes are working.
And for truly effective treatment, there needs to be more than drugs alone. An integrated response that combines counselling, testing for nerve damage, steroid treatment and a bigger input from dermatologists is the best way forward.
Reference: British Medical Journal 328, 1447 (2004)