In an effort to address ongoing transmission of leprosy, our Leprosy Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (LPEP) program provides preventative treatment to close contacts of newly diagnosed patients – such as family members or friends – among whom are those most at risk.
Since 2014, the Novartis Foundation has been working with a wide network of partners, including Ministries of Health, to implement LPEP in eight countries. Over 170,000 contacts of patients have been screened, of whom about 150,000 received preventative treatment across Brazil, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Myanmar, Tanzania and Sri Lanka.
Country-level results have been excellent. For example, in Nepal, the LPEP program managed to trace 55,715 contacts - of which 94% were identified to be at risk of developing leprosy and all were offered preventative treatment. In addition, the initiative identified 248 new leprosy patients and 24 new patients with tuberculosis.
Since the LPEP model was included in the revised World Health Organization (WHO) Global Leprosy Strategy for 2016–2020, operational learnings should be used to support further countries with national implementation.
Our LPEP partners include several International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP) members: Netherlands Leprosy Relief, FAIRMED, American Leprosy Missions and the German Leprosy and TB Relief Association, as well as academic institutions including the Erasmus University Medical Center and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.