The happy couple, Constancio and Antonia Alinsog, live in a remote community in the Philippines. Both were previously infected with leprosy and although their journey has at times been difficult, they remain optimistic – buoyed by their marriage of 69 years and numerous grandchildren!
The Novartis Foundation seeks to interrupt the transmission of leprosy through early diagnosis. Launched as part of a Philippines Department of Health – Novartis Foundation Task Force for Leprosy, the Leprosy Alert and Response Network System (LEARNS) was first successfully implemented in the Iloilo province and today covers 27 provinces in 9 regions with phased nationwide scale-up by the Department of Health in progress.
It is the first mobile phone-based leprosy detection system, allowing frontline providers to send images of suspect leprosy lesions and symptoms via SMS to a specialist, which helps to reduce delays in diagnosis and treatment. To date, close to 6,000 healthcare providers have been trained in LEARNS nationwide.