The International Leprosy Congress: A launch pad to defeating leprosy?

06 September 2019

The International Leprosy Congress: A launch pad to defeating leprosy?

Every four to five years the International Leprosy Congress (ILC) takes place. This year it is taking place in Manila between 11-13 September, and there is a buzz leading in to it, as increased partnership has broadened our horizons in recent years.

Many of the leading lights in the fight against leprosy are coming together

The Congress will have somewhere between 500 and 700 attendees, each of whom will bring unique levels of knowledge and experience of leprosy. Amongst these people will be people affected by leprosy, lab researchers, clinicians, surgeons, people responsible for implementing projects, and many more.

The Leprosy Mission is sending 103 people to the Congress and we are presenting around 80 of the 650 presentations that will take place across the Congress. These presentations cover everything from lab-based research, surgical techniques, drug trials, project implementation findings, and social science research into attitudes and stigma.

A unique opportunity to learn and be energised

Research is very important to The Leprosy Mission; this Congress is an opportunity for us to share what we have learnt in the last few years, but also to learn from others, to find out about the latest innovations and where leprosy work is heading.

After past ILCs our teams have come away excited and energised, full of ideas that will allow us to innovate and push our work towards the next levels. This Congress is going to be no different.

Partnership within the leprosy community adds a different flavour to this ILC

The theme of ILC 2019 is Global Partnership in Addressing Current Challenges. In recent years, the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy (GPZL) has pushed forward the work to defeat leprosy substantially. This is the first ILC where we will have an opportunity to hear from them about what they’ve learnt.

GPZL and the Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI) have grown closer together in the past 12 months and have agreed to collaborate on increasing funding for leprosy research.

Their work, coupled with an increased sense of partnership within the leprosy community over recent years, has allowed us to reach out much further than ever before. This sense of partnership will add a flavour of renewed enthusiasm from ILC 2019.          

The ILC fosters greater enthusiasm and partnership than we can achieve when we work in silos. These kinds of events are a perfect launch pad to defeating leprosy. We’re still struggling with transmission, which the WHO has shown is continuing in substantial numbers. We’re also seeing far too many cases of leprosy disability as we are not finding people with the disease soon enough.

This Congress is going to be an exciting reminder that working in partnership and sharing knowledge is the key to taking on these challenges and unlocking zero leprosy. Events like these are crucial launch pads to defeating leprosy.

We’re excited to be attending ILC 2019 in such larger numbers. If you’re attending, please keep an eye out for our stand and for any presentations that we will be giving at the Congress.

Download our conference booklet here