Leprosy occurs in over half of all countries worldwide today. In its 127-year history, SFLG has supported leprosy-related projects in over 30 of these countries. Today, we work in 13 countries in Africa, Asia and Brazil where leprosy is endemic, as follows:
People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Bangladesh, in South Asia, shares its borders with India and Myanmar. It is the eighth-most populous country in the world with over 166 million people and, one of the most densely populated. Although Bangladesh is an emerging market with a middle-income economy, poverty, overcrowding and lack of infrastructure remain significant problems. The country is extremely vulnerable to environmental issues, including flooding and cyclones. Bangladesh is a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read about our work in Bangladesh.
República Federativa do Brasil
Brazil is the largest country in South America and borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east and all countries in South America except Ecuador and Chile. It is the world’s fifth largest country by area and the sixth most populous with over 213 million people. It is a newly industrialised country with an advanced emerging economy and the twelfth largest GDP in the world.Despite its burgeoning economy, Brazil is a WHO global priority country for leprosy, with the second highest number of new cases behind India.
Read about our work in Brazil
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ethiopia is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest. These countries are some of the poorest nations in the world. Ethiopia ranks 173 out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index.
It is a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read our news from Jimma, Ethiopia
Republic of India
India, in South Asia, shares its borders with Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal and Bhutan to the north and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. It accommodates the world’s second largest population with over 1.39 billion people and is the seventh-largest country by land area.
Despite India’s middle-income and one of the world’s fastest growing major economies, almost 30% of its population lives below the poverty line. Additional challenges faced by Indian people, include a lack of provision or access to education, healthcare and improved water and sanitation. India is a WHO global priority country for leprosy. Around 60% of the people affected by leprosy live in India.
Read about our work in Dindigul, Tamil Nadu
Read about our work in Muniguda, Odisha
Read about our work in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu
Read about our work in Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh
Republic of Liberia
Liberia, on the western African coast, is bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. It has a population of just over five million people.
Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim independence. Despite this incredible achievement, this nation has experienced massive civil conflict impacting infrastructure and basic social services. The 2013–2016 outbreak of Ebola virus has left 83% of the population living below the poverty line. Liberia has one of the highest incidences of sexual violence against women in the world.
It ranks joint 175th with Democratic Republic of Congo out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index. However, Liberia is not a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read about our work in Liberia
Republic of Madagascar
Madagascar is the world’s second largest island country. It is located in the Indian Ocean, 400, kilometres off the coast of eastern Africa. It is a diversity hotspot. 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on earth and is threatened by its rapidly growing population of over 28 million people.
he economy was weakened by the 2009–2013 political crisis and the quality of life remains poor for most of the Malagasy population.
Madagascar ranks 164th out of 189 in the Human Development Index. Madagascar is a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is located in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by India and Bangladesh to the northwest, Thailand and Laos to its east and southeast and, China to its northeast.
Myanmar is rich in natural resources, however, civil unrest, poor infrastructure and poor income distribution means that poverty remains a significant challenge in Myanmar, particularly in rural areas. The coup d’état in Myanmar, which began in February 2021, when the democratically elected National League for Democracy was deposed by Myanmar’s military, makes for an unsettled and dangerous environment.
Myanmar is a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read about our work in Myanmar
Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Nepal, bordered by China and India, is home to the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. It has a population of around 29.5 million people and it is one of the world’s poorest nations.
Development challenges include its landlocked position, unemployment, lack of access to safe sources of water and poor infrastructure. In addition, the devastating earthquakes in 2015 and political infighting have significantly delayed the development of the country.
Nepal is a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read about our work in Nepal
Federal Republic Nigeria
Nigeria, bordered by Benin, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger and the Atlantic Ocean to the south has the largest population in Africa with over 210 million people.
Although Nigeria is rich in oil, few Nigerians have benefitted, with some of the country’s biggest problems including corruption, crime, a lack of infrastructure and unemployment.
It ranks 161 out of 189 in the Human Development Index . Nigeria is a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read about our work in Nigeria.
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Pakistan, in South Asia, is the fifth most populous nation in the world, with over 224 million people. It has a one-thousand-kilometer coastline along the Arabian sea and Gulf of Oman to the south. It is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest and China to the northeast.
Pakistan possesses the world’s sixth-largest standing armed forces, it is a nuclear power and has a large and fast-growing middle class. Its political history, since independence in 1947, has been characterised by periods of significant military and economic growth as well as instability. The country faces challenges of poverty, illiteracy, and corruption.
Pakistan is not a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read about our work in Pakistan
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is an island country situated off the coast of south-east India. It has a population of over 21 million people and is home to many religions, ethnic groups and languages. 25 years of violence and civil conflict between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and the Hindu Tamil minority finally ended in May 2009.
The effects of the conflict are still prevalent today with many war widows and orphaned children. Sri Lanka also faces environmental challenges due to the ever-present threat of cyclones and flooding.
Sri Lanka is a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read about our work in Badulla, Sri Lanka
Read about our work in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
Read about our work in Wattala, Sri Lanka
Republic of Uganda
Uganda is a landlocked country located in central-eastern Africa. It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by Democratic Republic of Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda and, to the south by Tanzania.It has a population of over 47 million people.
Uganda gained independence in 1962 and since then, has experienced violent conflict including eight years of military dictatorship by Amin. The current president has been in power since 1986.
The nation suffers with numerous human rights issues with 1.4 million displaced persons caused by internal conflict, widespread torture, attacks on political freedom, child labour, slavery and people trafficking.
Uganda ranks 159 out of 189 in the Human Development Index but it is not a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read about our work in Uganda
Republic of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, located between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the south-west, Zambia to the north and Mozambique to the east. The capital and largest city is Harare. A country of just over 15 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages with English, Shona and Ndebele the most commonly spoken.
Zimbabwe's recent history has been marked by civil war, brutality and unrest. By 2017, it was calculated that Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF reign had cost Zimbabwe $38 billion in lost growth, 20 million people in lost population growth due to starvation and disease and halving of life expectancy. Death by politically motivated violence exceeded 200,000 people. Over two million people are still facing starvation due to recent droughts.
Zimbabwe is not a WHO global priority country for leprosy.
Read our news from Mutemwa, Zimbabwe
Sources of information
2021 population statistics taken from Worldometer
The Human Development Index is a statistical composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income in 189 countries worldwide, compiled by the United Nations. Download PDF
The World Health Organization Weekly Epidemiological Record provides global leprosy statistics each year.