In 1991 the member governments of the WHO pledged their commitment to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2000. Estimates for 1996 indicate that there are about 1.3 million cases of leprosy in the world. 87 countries having a significant number of cases. Of these 95% live in five countries. In the top 16 endemic countries, the prevalence rate is still 4.5 per 10,000, i.e., 5 times higher than the elimination target (below 1 case per 10,000 population). It is estimated, however, that over 330,000 leprosy cases have yet to be detected, about 50% of them living in Asia. The widest gaps between registered and estimated cases are reported particularly in countries with poor service coverage.