Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to man, but today 2–3 million people are still estimated to be living with physical disability and stigmatization as a result of the disease. The disease often occurs in hard-to-reach communities with poor access to healthcare and where untreated patients continue to spread the infection.
For over 30 years, Novartis and the Novartis Foundation have been working with partners around the world to eliminate leprosy.
Renewed commitment to achieve Zero Leprosy
The Novartis Foundation launched a new strategy to interrupt the transmission of leprosy. The four-pillar strategy includes early diagnosis and prompt treatment for all leprosy patients, screening and post-exposure prophylaxis for people who have contact with newly diagnosed patients, development of new diagnostic tools and surveillance systems that trigger swift intervention.
The Novartis Foundation also continues to play a critical role in convening key leprosy stakeholders to advance our common goal of making leprosy history. The Novartis Foundation’s involvement in the partnership builds on three decades of experience in the area, and a long-standing commitment to exploring innovative ways to interrupt the transmission of leprosy: a strategy recently set-out in two papers published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.
As part of this long-standing commitment, the Novartis Foundation has pioneered approaches in leprosy diagnostics, and approaches to leprosy screening using digital technology.
The Novartis Foundation is funding member and one of the driving forces behind a new “Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy”. The partnership brings together organizations including the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), the International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement (IDEA), as well as national leprosy programs, with support from the World Health Organization.
The Global Partnership aims to accelerate progress toward a world without leprosy, knowing that it will still take many, many years… The partnership is coordinating action in three key areas:
Accelerating research in new diagnostic and therapeutic tools, interventions, and strategies to interrupt transmission
Mobilizing technical assistance and expertise to strengthen existing national programs
Increasing advocacy and fundraising
The Leprosy Alert and Response Network System (LEARNS)
The Philippines’ first mobile phone-based leprosy detection system allows photos of suspect leprosy lesions to be shared with a specialist.