The Pearl Project

The family in the front row were the first in Kiribati to receive their dose of RifampicinThe Foundation has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Medical services in Kiribati for the last 10 years improving capacity and providing training in leprosy diagnosis and treatment.

Since 2018 we have been implementing a project to screen all household contacts of known leprosy cases dating back to 2010 and providing a preventative dose of Rifampicin (one of the drugs used to treat leprosy) to all contacts. Studies have shown that this reduces leprosy by 50-60% amongst those most at risk of catching leprosy.  So far, 12000 people have been treated – nearly 10% of the population!

This approach is even more effective when the total population of a country receives a dose of rifampicin but this is expensive and difficult to carry out.



We were delighted to be contacted by an Australian research team planning a major intervention for TB in Kiribati. The Pearl project aims
at reducing the incidence of TB by active case finding together with the treatment of “latent” TB – those people who have been infected but so farshow no signs of active TB.

Over a period of three years the Pearl project will screen and test the total population of South Tarawa (the atoll which is home to 60% of the population).

In conjunction with the Pearl project, the Foundation will implement the Combine project which will add leprosy to the project by checking the total population for signs of leprosy, providing treatment to those who have leprosy and giving a dose of rifampicin to everyone else.

This is a ground-breaking project. You can read more about the details at


The Foundation is supported financially in this by the Leprosy Research Initiative and
the Turing Foundation which has provided funding over a four year period.