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  • INNOVATION IN SCIENCE offers new opportunities and hope for zero leprosy.

  • PARTNERSHIP will coordinate research in new diagnostics, strategies to interrupt transmission, translation of new evidence into action and help strengthen national programs.
Woman from Bangladesh
Photo credit: Lepra


Leading leprosy groups have joined forces to launch a Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy to accelerate progress towards a world without leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease.

The Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy was established by several leading leprosy organizations, including the Novartis Foundation, the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), and the International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement (IDEA), with representation from national leprosy programs, scientific organizations and the academic community, and with support from the World Health Organization (WHO). The secretariat for the Global Partnership is hosted by the Task Force for Global Health.


Initially, the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy will coordinate action in three key areas:

  • ACCELERATE RESEARCH in new diagnostic and therapeutic tools, interventions, and strategies to interrupt leprosy transmission.

  • MOBILIZE TECHNICAL EXPERTISE to strengthen existing national programs.

  • INCREASE ADVOCACY and fundraising.


Despite the availability of effective multi-drug therapy (MDT) for the last 30 years, the number of newly diagnosed leprosy patients has remained above 200,000 per year for the last decade, including thousands of children.

However, scientific innovation is changing the way we approach leprosy and may provide innovative ways to fully interrupt transmission of the disease. Recent scientific breakthroughs include improved diagnostic methods, more effective ways to prevent the spread of infections, and new ways of treating people at greatest risk.

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Woman with leprosy
Photo credit: Jean Platteau and DFB


Membership in the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy is open to all leprosy-affiliated organizations, including: representatives from persons affected, non-governmental organizations, national programs, the scientific and academic communities, and donor groups.

If you are interested in learning more about the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy or would like to express interest in becoming a member, please complete the inquiry form.

Inquiry Form

Man with Prosthetic Leg
Photo credit: The Leprosy Mission Trust England & Wales


Leprosy is caused by Mycobacterium leprae and transmitted via droplets through the nose and mouth of untreated patients. After infection, it can take up to 20 years before symptoms begin to appear.

Since 1981, more than 16 million leprosy patients have been treated with multidrug therapy (MDT) donated at first by The Nippon Foundation, and since 2000 by Novartis through the WHO. This has reduced the global number of people being treated for M. leprae infection by 99%. However, the number of people newly diagnosed with leprosy has plateaued at more than 200,000 per year for over a decade. The majority of new leprosy cases occur in India, Brazil and Indonesia where diagnosis is often delayed by limited access to health services or fear of stigma and discrimination.

This has a significant impact on both individuals and society, often forcing people to abandon their profession, lose their source of income and limit access to health services and social entitlements.

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World Health Organization, Weekly Epidemiological Record, 1 September 2017. Vol. 92, 35 (pp. 501-520). Available at:

Smith, C. S., Noordeen, S. K., Richardus, J. H., Sansarricq, H., Cole, S. T., Soares, R. C., … & Baruaf, S. (2014). A strategy to halt leprosy transmission. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 14(2), 96-98. Available at:

Peter Steinmann, Steven G Reed, Fareed Mirza, T Déirdre Hollingsworth, Jan Hendrik Richardus. Innovative tools and approaches to end the transmission of Mycobacterium leprae. Lancet Infect Dis 2017; 17: 298–305

World Health Organization. (2016). Strategy 2016-2020: Accelerating Towards a Leprosy-free World. WHO SEARO/Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, New Delhi. Available at:

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World Health Organization, Leprosy factsheet. Available at:

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