Case Study: Collaboration

Leprosy Donation Program, Novartis International AG


Since 1986, the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development (NFSD) has been active in the fight against leprosy and pioneered the use of social marketing to de-stigmatize the disease. Spreading the message that “leprosy can be cured,” the Foundation has played a key role in reducing the stigma attached to the disease and helping patients reintegrate into society. A cornerstone of the program has been the free provision of multidrug therapy (MDT) from 2000 onwards by the Foundation’s parent company Novartis to all leprosy patients worldwide through the WHO. To a great extent, the success in fighting leprosy can be attributed to the partnerships between public and private actors over the past three decades. Groups such as the WHO, health ministries, scientists, NGOs, communities, and the private sector have all substantially contributed to make diagnosis and free treatment available.

Lessons Learned

Thanks to the cooperation between civil society, government, and companies like Novartis, the fight against leprosy is one of the greatest public health successes of these past three decades. Since 1985, more than 14 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy, shrinking worldwide prevalence by approximately 95%. Despite this success, the battle has not yet been completely won and there has been a stagnation of new cases from 2005 onwards. Leprosy control is at a critical juncture and the NFSD has thus launched a new multi-stakeholder initiative to continue to share knowledge and improve collaboration during this last mile.

Results to Date

  • To date, Novartis has donated more than 48 million MDT blister packs valued at approximately USD 77 million, reaching more than 5 million leprosy patients worldwide.
  • In 2012, Novartis extended the MDT donation until 2020 through the WHO to all leprosy patients worldwide. This new five-year commitment includes treatments worth an estimated USD 22.5 million and up to USD 2.5 million to support the WHO in handling the donation and logistics, and is expected to reach an estimated 850,000 patients.

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