19 October 2021 · Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy

GPZL hosts research workshop on early detection of leprosy

The Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy 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 to identify critical but neglected areas of leprosy research. The top three priority topics will be explored in a series of three research workshops that convene researchers to define specific research questions that will drive forward progress in these key areas.

At the end of September, GPZL hosted the first of these research workshops on the topic of early detection of leprosy. This workshop brought together researchers with experience studying early detection of leprosy, with representation from NGOs, academic institutions, national leprosy programmes, 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.

Attendees split into three sub-groups that focused on sub-topics under the overall topic of early detection: GIS and mapping, capacity strengthening for leprosy practitioners, and cost-effective strategies for early detection. The three subgroups developed concept notes by the conclusion of the workshop. These concept notes can be used to develop high-level research protocols which can be adapted based on context-specific settings and funder requirements. After the finalization of the concept notes, they will be taken to discussions with various funders to identify potential sources for research funding.

The next workshop will take place at the end of the year and will explore stigma reduction and improving mental wellbeing. The third workshop is slated for early 2022 on the topic of diagnosis and treatment of NFI and reactions. We look forward to updating the leprosy community on the outcomes of those workshops after their completion.