19 May 2022 · Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy

GPZL welcomes new Leadership Team members

The Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy welcomes six new members to our Leadership Team. We are pleased to announce the new representatives of persons-affected organizations, national leprosy programs, organizational members, individual members, and the global health community. Learn about our newest Leadership Team members, Faustino Pinto, Lucrecia Vásquez Acevedo, Rabindra Baskota, Berta Mendiguren de la Vega, Emmy van der Grinten, and Jordan Tappero, below.

Faustino Pinto

Faustino Pinto joins the Leadership Team as a Persons-affected Organization Representative. As the National Coordinator of MORHAN, the Movement for the Reintegration of People Affected by Hansen’s Disease in Brazil, Faustino leads grassroots efforts for the social rights of people affected by Hansen’s disease and their families. Faustino is an activist, nursing assistant, and health educator. He has been a member of MORHAN since 1992.

Faustino had Hansen’s disease as early as nine years old but was not diagnosed until the age of 18. He underwent treatment for four and a half years and suffered many reactions and some physical impairment. Today, Faustino is undergoing treatment for Hansen’s disease for the second time. He is determined to continue fighting for the human rights of people affected by Hansen’s disease. He remains hopeful that together we will bring about important changes in the lives of people affected by Hansen’s disease and that we will ensure respect, dignity, and better care for people affected.

Lucrecia Vásquez Acevedo

Lucrecia Vásquez Acevedo joins the Leadership Team as a Persons-affected Organization Representative. Lucrecia is the president of Felehansen, an organization of persons affected by Hansen’s disease in Colombia. She serves as a legal representative of organizations of persons affected by Hansen’s disease, tuberculosis, and HIV, and people with disabilities.

Lucrecia overcame Hansen’s disease while raising her son. Today, she supports persons affected who cannot turn to their families for support due to the myths, stigma, and discrimination surrounding Hansen’s disease. She is a mental health advocate and community organizer who works to end discriminatory laws and strengthen the Hansen’s disease community. Lucrecia understands the need to include persons affected by Hansen’s disease at decision-making tables. She aims to represent persons affected to improve their quality of life. 

Rabindra Baskota

Dr Rabindra Baskota joins the Leadership Team as a National Leprosy Programme Representative. Rabindra is the chief of the Leprosy Control and Disability Management Section of the Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal. He is a dermatologist and holds a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Melbourne, where he was awarded the “Leaders in Community” award in 2021. Since 2018, his work has involved the development of national policies, strategies, and guidelines, and leprosy program management at the national and the sub-national levels.

Rabindra contributed to the development of the Zero Leprosy Toolkit as a member of GPZL’s Operational Excellence Working Group and chair of the SDR-PEP sub-group. He also worked with GPZL to coordinate Nepal’s National Leprosy Programme review alongside WHO, ILEP, and organizations of persons affected by leprosy. He then spearheaded the development of Nepal’s National Zero Leprosy Roadmap and Action Plan. Rabindra has authored and co-authored various publications on leprosy.

Berta Mendiguren de la Vega

Berta joins the Leadership Team as the Organizational Member Representative. As a member of the Board of Trustees of Anesvad Foundation, she is dedicated to defending the right to health with a particular focus on the fight against skin neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy, Buruli ulcer, and Yaws, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Berta holds a Ph.D. in Health Anthropology and a Master’s in Decentralized International Cooperation: Peace and Development. She is a social worker specializing in migration, a researcher, and an international consultant in anthropology and health. Since 2010 she has lived in both Europe and the Central African Republic (CAR), where she conducts research and co-writes documentaries such as Central Africa’s Closed Eyelids. She also co-manages a social pharmacy in Bangui, CAR.

Emmy van der Grinten

Emmy van der Grinten joins the Leadership Team as the Individual Member Representative. She brings more than 20 years of experience in supporting various disease control programs in Africa to this role. Emmy currently serves as the Operations Director at KNCV.

Emmy studied tropical medicine at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. She has worked and lived in Nigeria (13 years), South Africa (1 year) and Ghana (6 years), and has since relocated to her home country, the Netherlands. She has experience in program management, routine surveillance (including GIS mapping), monitoring and evaluation, capacity building, partnership building, and strategic planning. Emmy enjoys working with Ministries of Health local partner organizations. Jointly working towards zero leprosy remains Emmy’s passion as she serves as a Board Member for the Leprosy Mission Netherlands.

Jordan Tappero

Jordan Tappero joins the Leadership Team as the Global Health Representative. He is a physician epidemiologist by training and completed a 25-year career with the US CDC. In 2018 he joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he serves as the Deputy Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases. His current work focuses on the eradication of Guinea worm and the global elimination of lymphatic filariasis, human African trypanosomiasis, and visceral leishmaniasis in Asia.

He has global health experience across four continents including 14 years as a CDC Country Director in Botswana, Thailand, Uganda, and Haiti.  At the close of 2017, he retired from the U.S. Public Health Service at the rank of Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General. In February 2020, he provided direct foundation support to WHO in Geneva to establish a global surveillance system for COVID-19. He returned in February 2021 to develop WHO surveillance guidance for SARS-CoV-2 variants. Jordan holds three American Board Certifications (Dermatology, Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine) and has co-authored over 270 peer-reviewed publications.