Thursday, November 24, 2011

Recently approved ILEP Leprosy Research strategy

Leprosy Mailing List – November 18th, 2011 
Ref.:   Recently approved ILEP Leprosy Research strategy
From: D Soutar, London, UK

Dear Salvatore,
I would be grateful if you could post the following news item and link regarding the recently approved ILEP Leprosy Research strategy.  Further research in all aspects of leprosy control will still be needed if we are to have the appropriate, sustainable tools with which to continue towards our goal of a world without leprosy.  I very much hope the sharing of this ambitious ILEP Strategy will stimulate some fresh debate and motivation to address and reverse the declining focus on important leprosy research.  We welcome your readers’ thoughts and responses on this topic.
Douglas Soutar

Ambitious Research Strategy for ILEP Federation     See link: ILEP Research Strategy

At their meeting in October, 2011 the ILEP Board approved an ambitious Research Strategy for the ILEP Federation.  This had been formulated by the outgoing ILEP Technical Commission and its promotion and follow-up will now be a priority for the new ILEP Technical Commission whose eight members were selected by the ILEP Board during the same meeting.

Summary: A research strategy to develop new tools to prevent leprosy, improve patient care and reduce the consequences of leprosy
The ImportanceThe Global Leprosy Programme has had a dramatic impact on the prevalence of registered cases of leprosy over the last 20 years through the implementation of short course multi-drug therapy (MDT) treatment. However, further advances in the field of leprosy are hindered by the lack of new tools to address the challenge of apparent persistence in transmission and incidence, and the long term consequences of the disease. 
The StrategyThis strategy was developed by the Technical Commission of ILEP to provide a framework to prioritise research, to identify the steps needed to develop and implement new tools, and to identify funding gaps. The strategy focuses on applied research, either technology transfer or research to evaluate effectiveness of interventions where there is already proof of principle.  More basic research and proof of principle are important but are outside the scope of this five-year strategy.
The PrinciplesThe strategy is composed of eight themes but research in these themes should be fully integrated mainly through the use of common field sites.  The integration of research with other Neglected Tropical Diseases and diseases of poverty, and multi-disciplinary approaches are strongly advocated.  Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 targets the reduction in the burden of disease but tackling poverty (MDG1), education (MDG2), gender equality (MDG3), child health (MDG4), maternal health (MDG5) and partnerships (MDG8) are all important for leprosy. The key research themes are as follows:
1. Prevention of leprosy
2. Early detection
3. Chemotherapy
4. Nerve function impairment and reactions
5. Prevention of disability
6. Community Based Rehabilitation
7. Stigma reduction and advocacy
8. Health and social care integration
The LogisticsThis strategy is based on the achievement of deliverables within five years at an estimated cost of £24 million. A number of the projects are already in progress, some are developed and requiring funding, while other areas are gaps representing urgent priorities. 
ILEP Board Members, in approving this strategy, highlighted the importance of strengthening the links between research and field operations. Research into chemoprophylaxis for example, ties in with the recommendation of the WHO’s Enhanced Global Strategy to Further Reduce the Disease Burden Due to Leprosy 2011 – 2015 to examine contacts of persons diagnosed with leprosy.  Such links are given prominence within the Research Strategy since combining such elements more effectively could have a big impact on leprosy control. Success in the other research areas could have an even more significant impact on leprosy around the world.

The General Secretary of ILEP, Mr Douglas Soutar, welcomed this clear identification of research priorities in leprosy and expressed his optimism that the declining interest in leprosy research can be reversed if ILEP Members and others can garner support for these vitally important fields of investigation. “Only with a sound evidence base and new tools will we be able to achieve our ultimate goal of a world without leprosy.”
Douglas Soutar
General Secretary
International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations
Tel: 44 (0) 207 602 69 25 – Fax:  44 (0) 207 371 16 21 – Website:
E-mail: doug.soutar(at)

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