In 1982, following the recommendations of a WHO study group, multidrug therapy (MDT) was introduced into French Polynesia to treat all patients suffering from active leprosy, and - only on request - those still on dapsone monotherapy. After 5 years, a clear-cut decrease of prevalence and mean annual detection rates for leprosy (except for detection rates among children aged less than 15 years, many of such cases being detected early by increased household contact training) has been observed. There was also a decrease in the proportion of newly detected cases with disabilities. During the 21-year period preceding the introduction of MDT into the control programme, mean annual detection rates for leprosy had remained stable, and this led to the consideration that such a decrease was due neither to the natural decline of the disease nor to the economic improvement of the country. Our results, together with the fact that, to date, the relapse rate was nil in the Polynesian patients put on MDT, strongly suggest that the implementation of MDT has resulted in a decrease of detection rates for leprosy which may be a consequence of a decrease in the transmission of the disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases