Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development
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Leprosy elimination – a public-health success story

For more than 20 years, Novartis and the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development have been continuously engaged in the fight against leprosy. Since 2000, Novartis has donated drugs free of charge to leprosy patients worldwide, helping to cure approximately 5 million people. Two decades ago, leprosy was a public health problem in 122 countries. Today the disease has been eliminated as a public health problem (i.e. reaching a prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000 inhabitants) in most countries.

Since 1986, the Novartis Foundation has been actively involved in leprosy field programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America, working closely with local health ministries, WHO and NGOs. This was a natural extension of Novartis’ role in the development and donation of high-quality multidrug therapy (MDT). 

  • The Novartis Foundation pioneered the use of social marketing in leprosy to generate and meet demand for leprosy diagnosis and treatment. Social marketing includes communications and promotion measures as well as making effective treatment readily accessible and reducing the total costs for seeking treatment.
  • The foundation supported countries like Brazil and Sri Lanka to integrate leprosy services into the general health services - to make treatment more accessible.
  • In 1989, the foundation set up today's Novartis Comprehensive Leprosy Care Association (NCLCA) in India to make disability care services more available at the village level. The foundation is still engaged in this program today.
  • The Novartis Foundation promotes surveys that aim to detect remaining leprosy cases in order to better control and ultimately eliminate leprosy. For more information please visit the leprosy control studies website.

The impact of the foundation's activities has extended beyond the individual programs. Many of these approaches have been adopted by other organizations.


Publications (foundation / partner organizations)

Leprosy for medical practitioners and paramedical workers

Download > [en] (PDF, 3.5 MB)


Comprehensive leprosy care: Empowering patients in India
Project factsheet
Download > [en] (PDF, 3.5 MB)


Newsletter express No. 1/10, January 2010
Making leprosy history
Download > [en] (PDF, 547.2 KB)


    ILEP - International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations


Annual report 2012

The annual report 2012 of the Novartis Foundation is now available.

Order a copy or download the electronic version

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Driving innovative approaches in the fight against leprosy

Driving innovative approaches in the fight against leprosy

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[en] (PDF, 1.3 MB)

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Project example

Comprehensive leprosy care in India