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Leprosy Post-​Exposure Prophylaxis (LPEP)

Photography: Henk Braam /​Sasja van Vechgel

Direct contacts of leprosy patients have a greater risk than others of developing the disease. To identify infected people more quickly, we examine family members, neighbours and friends for symptoms. A pioneering new method now allows us to treat leprosy on a preventative basis. We give direct contacts of new leprosy patients a single dose of rifampicin (SDR), and they have a 60% lower chance of getting the disease. Research in Bangladesh and Indonesia that was partly financed by NLR confirmed this.

In 2014 we began preparations for the LPEP (Leprosy Post-​Exposure Prophylaxis) project. In 2015 we officially started. This experimental project in 6 countries can be integrated into standard leprosy programs. In Indonesia, India and Nepal we executed the project in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. In 2015 about 36,000 people got rifampicin in the 3 countries, an average of 27 contacts for each patient. In Myanmar, Tanzania and Sri Lanka it is carried out by other ILEP (International Federation of Anti-​Leprosy Associations) members. The Novartis Foundation coordinates and finances it. The Erasmus University Medical Center (Erasmus MC) and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) are involved in monitoring and evaluation.

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