Treatment of leprosy: science or politics?

Trop Med Int Health. 2006 Mar;11(3):268-78. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2006.01561.x.


Objective: To review the history of the treatment of leprosy and leprosy reactions after World War II.

Methods: Treatments based on experience and clinical evidence are compared with those advised by the WHO in their quest to eliminate leprosy by the year 2000, later extended to 2005.

Results: Leprosy is not eliminated. Analyses of data on reaction treatment suggest that the treatment regimens for leprosy reactions as advised by the WHO may lead to more impairment among leprosy patients than the 'old' established regimes.

Conclusion: WHO policies to eliminate leprosy may have jeopardized the proper treatment of leprosy for years to come.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Erythema Nodosum / drug therapy
  • Erythema Nodosum / prevention & control
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Leprostatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Leprosy / drug therapy*
  • Leprosy / prevention & control
  • Leprosy, Lepromatous / drug therapy
  • Leprosy, Lepromatous / prevention & control
  • Steroids / therapeutic use
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Thalidomide / therapeutic use
  • World Health Organization


  • Leprostatic Agents
  • Steroids
  • Thalidomide