Can leprosy be eradicated with chemotherapy? An evaluation of the Malta Leprosy Eradication Project

Lepr Rev. 2008 Dec;79(4):410-5.


The Malta Leprosy Eradication Project (MLEP) was proposed in 1971 by Freerksen with the aim of eradicating leprosy in Malta. The project involved re-treatment of all known cases in Malta as of 1972 and all new cases thereafter with a regimen consisting of Isoprodian (a combination of dapsone, prothionamide and isoniazid) and rifampicin for varying intervals depending on the severity of their disease and their response to treatment. Overall the response to therapy was excellent with an extremely low relapse rate. During the 30 years of the project the incidence of leprosy steadily decreased continuing a decline that had started at least two decades earlier and Freerksen declared the disease eradicated from Malta in 2001. Although given the long incubation period of leprosy cases may still be occasionally detected in the future, the disease has been basically eradicated at this time and there are no patients currently receiving treatment. This work was done at the leprosy clinic, Boffa Hospital, Floriana, Malta.

MeSH terms

  • Dapsone / administration & dosage
  • Dapsone / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoniazid / administration & dosage
  • Isoniazid / therapeutic use*
  • Leprostatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Leprostatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Leprosy / drug therapy*
  • Leprosy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Malta / epidemiology
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prothionamide / administration & dosage
  • Prothionamide / therapeutic use*
  • Rifampin / administration & dosage
  • Rifampin / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Drug Combinations
  • Leprostatic Agents
  • isoprodian
  • Prothionamide
  • Dapsone
  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin