Leprosy is a chronic slightly contagious disease. It is not easily transmitted from one person to another. It is caused by bacillus bacteria called Mycobacterium Leprae. It affects skin and peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. Untreated, leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Involvement of certain peripheral nerves may result in characteristic patterns of disabilities leading to ulceration of skin and deformity of some joints.

The global prevalence rate of leprosy is less than one case per 10 000 persons. Elimination was achieved in 2000.

The Eastern Mediterranean Region reports a small proportion of the global new cases. The disease has been eliminated from all countries of the Region, except South Sudan, where the situation still needs to be reviewed following separation in 2011. Some countries still have a few districts which have not achieve elimination, such as Sudan, Egypt and Yemen. South Sudan is the only country from the Region among the 17 countries globally reporting more than 1000 new cases annually. Most of the countries report a very small number of cases. Sudan, Egypt, Pakistan and Yemen report between 300 and 900 new cases per year. Morocco, Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Iran and Somalia report less than 100 new cases annually. Some member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council report non-national cases.