In the first year of the PEOPLE study (2019), a total of 101,994 persons were identified of whom 95,679 agreed to participate in the study and were examined for signs of leprosy by the local screening teams. Amongst these participants, 428 new leprosy patients were identified, of whom 325 in Anjouan (The Comoros), 38 in Mohéli (The Comoros) and 65 in Miandrivazo (Madagascar). In the second year, to date, a total of 34,074 participant has been revisited and 50 new (incident) leprosy patient have been identified. This massive effort is only possible through incredibly dedicated field teams. Their commitment to the diagnosis and care for leprosy patients inspires all involved in the project.
The COVID-19 pandemic reached Madagascar before the Comoros, where the first patient was recognized April 30th 2020. On the 15th of July 2020, Madagascar had 1378 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, while the ministry of health from the Comoros reported a total of 197 confirmed cases, of whom three have died. PEOPLE team members in the Comoros and Madagascar continue to screen the inhabitants of highly endemic villages for leprosy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the screening teams are using enhanced protective equipment including surgical masks, to protect themselves and the participants.
The PEOPLE project will also take on a sub-study on COVID-19, in which a cohort of health care workers will be established in the main hospitals of the three islands of the Union des Comores to measure and document COVID-19 incidences.