• Research priorities: Transmission
  • Country: India
  • Project no.: FP24\12
  • Budget: €200,466
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Status: Not yet started
  • Co-funding partners: Turing Foundation

Turing Foundation leprosy

Full project title
Holistic investigation for environmental presence of Mycobacterium leprae and its implications in leprosy transmission through WASH and One Health approach

Project coordination
LEPRA Society- Blue Peter Public Health and Research Centre

American Leprosy Missions
Society of Leprosy Affected People (SLAP)
Stanley Browne Research Laboratory
National Animal Resource Facility For Biomedical Research, India
ICMR-National Institute of Research in Tribal Health, India
ICMR-National Animal Resource Facility For Biomedical Research, India
District NLEP Office, Hyderabad

Aim: The study aims to investigate and compare the association between the environmental presence of M. leprae in animals, water, and wastewater, in leprosy cases and healthy controls, with reference to the reported WASH behaviour.

Project summary

India accounts for more than half of the global leprosy burden. Leprosy is a chronic communicable disease associated with sensory and functional impairment leading to physical and psychological consequences. Person to person spread of Mycobacterium leprae the germ causing leprosy is yet to be fully understood. The proposed study aims at understanding the role of water and livestock in the spread of leprosy in low resource and high leprosy burden settings in India. Since the human dwellings where leprosy occurs have also been associated with poor living conditions, it was thought that bringing awareness to the communities on appropriate water safety, hygiene and sanitation conditions could potentially help in improving their health conditions in general and for leprosy in specific. The research study also envisages understanding the disease spread through a comprehensive approach of human, animal and environment context which is sort of One health. The research plan involves the communities affected by leprosy who will be empowered in decision making for study designing and implementation, in addition to making it a livelihood opportunity as the trained community resource persons. The research team develops standard procedures for better hygiene practices for safe handling of the livestock. Proposed research study ultimately aims at finding the potential link between poor water hygiene practices, presence of live germs in potable or sewerage water and/or livestock with occurrence of leprosy cases. The findings from this study help inform the government policy makers and scientists to formulate appropriate preventing strategies for leprosy through better understanding its spread. Since the study is being conducted with the active involvement and empowerment of the communities, the study findings will be well internalised and the best practices well adhered by the communities.