Leprosy models

The goal of breaking leprosy transmission outlined in the World Health Organisation (WHO) Roadmap on NTDs and endorsed in the London Declaration is based on high-quality epidemiological evidence and opinion. However there has been no sistematic effort to support the setting or achievement of these goals with quantitaive modelling and analysis. Embedded in the NTD Modelling Consortium three world-leading epidemiological modelling groups started to work alongside each other, using complimentary approaches to improve our understanding of the transmission dynamics of leprosy and to give practical, policy-relevant insights for leprosy control. The consortium allows for sharing of expertise across the stages of model development, fitting and analysis. We hope that the outcomes of these modelling exercises may help to guide future elimination strategies for leprosy.

The leprosy models used three different approaches to learn from the history of the disease epidemiology and understand the most impactful and cost-effective strategies to reach elimination. The models were developed by the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands led by Prof Jan Hendrik Richardus, the University of California, San Francisco led by Prof Travis Porco, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Warwick led by Prof Graham Medley.

In 2015, this work resulted in three preliminary papers that were published in the journal ‘Parasites & Vectors’. The conclusion was that, without further preventative measures, the ongoing transmission of M.leprae will make global elimination of leprosy by 2020 unlikely to occur.

This two-year project funded by the Novartis Foundation is assessing where the 2020 goals can be achieved using current strategies and if necessary, identify additional strategies which will help accelerate the achievement of these goals.