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Novartis extends WHO leprosy collaboration

Novartis has announced it is to extend its collaboration with the World Health Organization to help end leprosy

Novartis has announced it has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to extend its collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) to end leprosy.

The Switzerland-based company said it will continue to provide free multidrug therapy (MDT) medicines worth $26m to the agency, with estimates that 1.1 million leprosy patients will be treated during the five-year period from January 2011 to December 2015.

Handling costs will also be covered by Novartis.

Speaking on the agreement, Joe Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, said: "We are committed to ensuring that patients receive the medications they need and we intend to contribute to this programme until the final elimination of this debilitating disease."

Novartis has worked with the WHO for 10 years, donating treatments worth a total of $60m to help around five million patients.

The company is also continuing its commitment to educate people about the disease through the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development (NFSD).

NFSD's work includes collaborating with the Novartis Comprehensive Leprosy Care Association (NCLCA) in India to offer health education to leprosy patients, as well as providing physical aids such as prefabricated hand and foot splints.

India is one of several countries containing areas where leprosy is still prevalent, with others including Angola, Brazil, Madagascar and Nepal. The WHO describe information campaigns about leprosy in these high-risk areas as 'crucial' in encouraging people to come forward and receive treatment.

Cases of leprosy have decreased 95 per cent over the past 20 years. It is now estimated that there are fewer than 250,000 cases of the disease globally.

12th October 2010

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