International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Belisário Penna


    Category Leprosarium
    Country Brazil
    Address Paricatuba, Amazonas


    This institution takes its name from Belisário Penna, who was appointed head of the Service of Propaganda and Sanitary Education in 1928, which covered the states of Minas Gerais, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte. In 1930 he became head of the National Department of Public Health.
    (From biographical details in Guia do Acervo da Casa de Oswaldo Cruz. COC/Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, 1995).

    Inauguration took place on 1 July 1930.
    Araujo, HCS. 'A lepra e as organizações anti-leprosas do Brasil em 1936: 1.- Estado do Amazonas - Organizações anti-leprosas: Leprosario "Belisario Penna", Paricatuba'. Mem. Inst. Osw. Cruz, (1937) 32.1: 114.

    Souza Araujo (1933) describes the leprosarium as situated on the right bank of the Rio Negro, two hours from Manáus by motor launch, in a beautiful, well ventilated, salubrious spot. He writes of the 'clean' area, surrounded by a wire fence, where the doctor's house, pharmacy and service building (for water storage, electricity etc) can be found.

    The 'unhealthy' zone is described by Araujo as consisting of a main building, built around a large central patio. This construction contains ten dormitories for 280 patients, a music room, a school-library, a general refectory, a kitchen, a refectory for workers, and three showers and three lavoratories in each of the four wings. The 'S. Lazaro' pavilion, built by the 'Damas Protectoras do Leprosario', is divided into twenty rooms, each looking out onto the varanda by way of a door and window. There is no running water or sanitary installations in this pavilion.

    At the time of Souza Araujo writing, there are also twelve wooden houses, built in a single line leading from the main central building. These small houses have water and electric lighting. Completing the layout is a chapel, a small room for dressing wounds and a manual launderette. Araujo points out that the people working in the launderette are patients.

    Medical services: a dispensary is in front of the large pavilion, where two patients administer the daily injections of chaulmoogra derivatives. Seventy out of the 309 residents receive this treatment. There is no resident doctor here; the director of the State Sanitary Service visits once a week.

    Life in the institution is described as severe and the patients appeared sad, but disciplined and hard-working.

    Araujo, HCS. 'Contribuição á epidemiologia e prophylaxia da lepra no norte do Brasil: III.- A lepra no Estado do Amazonas - Situação actual: Leprosario Belisario Penna'. Mem. Inst. Osw. Cruz, (1933), 27.3: 184-6.

    Leprosaria - Historical References
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