14 April 2020 · Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy

GPZL’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan for 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging in some countries and just beginning to be felt in others, in just over 90 minutes on April 1 the GPZL’s Leadership Team identified the community’s key challenges and outlined an emergency response plan for 2020. This plan will ensure that the GPZL’s substantial expertise and network is focused on the urgent situation being faced by National Leprosy Programmes and persons affected by the disease, and their families. It will also help to prepare for 2021 onward, including the likely consequences of the pandemic around the world and the impact on the GPZL’s planned country partnerships.
After sharing and discussing individual and organizational perspectives on the current and potential future impact of the pandemic, the Leadership Team identified three new objectives for 2020:

  • Chronicle and provide support for the urgent needs of national programs, particularly for access to MDT and follow-up care.
  • Advocate for access to treatment and social services for persons affected.
  • Be prepared post-pandemic.

To achieve these objectives, three new term-limited work groups have been created to mobilize the expertise and authority of the Leadership Team and key organizational experts. The Leadership Team will lead and coordinate between these groups during twice-monthly calls.

A new Emergency Access to Treatment/Care Work Group chaired by Ms. Arielle Cavaliero (Novartis) and Dr. Benedict Quao (Leprosy Program Manager, Ghana), and will include WHO’s Global Leprosy Program and others working directly in the supply chain for multi-drug therapy (MDT). This group will focus on developing a platform for information-sharing to allow for the assessing/monitoring of the situation on the ground and the addressing of potential needs, including the provision of MDT and drugs for the treatment of reactions. Through the GPZL and WHO, the latest information on COVID-19 will be provided to National Programme Directors and further linkages will be sought to share information and knowledge during this challenging time.

An Emergency Advocacy Work Group for Persons Affected chaired by Dr. Alice Cruz (U.N. Rapporteur for Persons Affected and their Families) and Mr. Amar Timulsina (President of IDEA Nepal) will focus on a global/national advocacy campaign so that no patients are left behind. Continuing treatment and access to social welfare payments is crucial during the COVID emergency response. This group will build upon existing information-sharing networks, including social media.

A Post COVID-19 Work Group chaired by Mr. Geoff Warne (ILEP CEO) and Dr. Taka Nanri (Executive Director, Sasakawa Health Foundation), will focus on modeling to inform future scenarios, policy development for a post-COVID world, linking leprosy to new funding for health system strengthening, and engaging with other disease and advocacy groups.


Updates on the progress of these groups will be released in the newsletter and the Newsroom page of zeroleprosy.org. For more information about these work groups, or for questions about GPZL’s COVID-19 strategy, please contact us.