Leprosy in French Polynesia. Epidemiological trends between 1946 and 1987

J. L. Cartel, J. P. Boutin, A. Spiegel, P. Glaziou, R. Plichart, R. Cardines, J. H. Grosset

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The analysis of computerized data (OMSLEP system) on patients from French Polynesia followed since 1940 has shown a decrease in the mean annual detection rates for leprosy, all forms combined, from 24.73 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1946 to 8.1 per 100,000 in 1987 (y=-0.49 x+45.83: p<0.05). In fact, the decrease was significant (y=-1.18 x+83.54; p<0.05) during the first half of the study period (1946-66), but not during the second half (1967-87). Similarly, a significant decrease in all of the specific mean annual detection rates (according to the form of leprosy and to the sex and age of patients), in the proportion of multibacillary patients among the total of newly detected cases, and in the proportion of all patients with disabilities at the onset of leprosy was observed only during the first half of the study period (1946-66). Nevertheless, when comparing age-specific cumulative detection rates, calculated by 10-year age groups over the period 1946-66, to those of the period 1967-87, an ageing of the leprosy population was noted. Finally, the decrease of mean annual detection rates was greater in the smaller populations of remote islands than in the population of Tahiti, the main island, where 70%, of the total population were living during the study period. This decline was shown to correspond to an effective improvement of the leprosy situation which could be attributed, among other factors (such as economic development and systematic BCG vaccination), to the implementation of a control programme for leprosy in 1950. The introduction in 1982 of multidrug therapy for all patients suffering active leprosy has raised the hope of a subsequent decline of leprosy in French Polynesia in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-222
Number of pages12
JournalLeprosy review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Infectious Diseases


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