26 April 2023 · Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy

GPZL convenes experts in research workshop on nerve function impairment and leprosy reactions

The Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL) aims to accelerate research that contributes to global progress toward zero leprosy. After the publication of the Zero Leprosy Research Agenda in 2019, GPZL prioritized the agenda, gathering input from the leprosy research community and a research project landscaping exercise that identified critical but neglected areas of leprosy research. A plan was developed to explore the top three priority topics in a series of three research workshops. GPZL convenes experts in these workshops to define specific research questions that will drive progress in these key areas. The first workshop was held on the topic of early diagnosis of leprosy and the second workshop focused on reducing stigma and improving mental wellbeing.

In April 2023, GPZL hosted the third and final workshop in the series. The focus area was improving the diagnosis and treatment of nerve function impairment (NFI) and reactions. This workshop brought together more than 35 researchers, medical staff, and persons with experience of NFI and leprosy reactions from NGOs, academic institutions, the private sector, and organizations of persons affected by leprosy. Participants represented a wide range of countries, with about half of the participants joining from highly endemic countries.

Plenary sessions set the scene and provided space for initial discussions. Then, attendees split into two subgroups: one for diagnosis and the other for treatment. The subgroups developed an impact pathway and concept notes that identified key research questions. They also proposed a study design that can answer these questions. In the coming weeks, the chairs of the workshop sub-groups will support the further refinement of the concept notes. These concept notes can be used to develop research projects that can be adapted to context-specific settings and funder requirements.