Souza Araujo reported on the Antônio Diogo leprosarium in his 1933 publication, 'Contribuição á epidemiologia e prophylaxia da lepra no norte do Brasil' in Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz . He wrote that Antônio Diogo began a social movement in 1927 to construct a leprosarium in the state of Ceará. He and a few others formed the Commissão Constructora do Leprosário [Leprosarium Construction Commission] and on 9 August 1928 the institution was inaugurated, and later given the name of 'Antônio Diogo'.
On the day of inauguration, forty-three patients arrived with Dr Antônio Justa, who had just been appointed by Dr Amaral Machado, Head of Rural Sanitation, to revise the leprosy census. Administration of the leprosarium was carried out by Franciscan nuns.
Souza Araujo visited the institution on 16 February 1933, with Dr Antônio Justa, ex-clinical director of the establishment. He saw that there were two areas, 'limpa' [clean] and 'dos doentes' [for patients]. The 'clean' area, on a hectare of land, consisted of buildings for administration; a convent; the creche 'Silva Araujo'; and residences of the chaplain and administrator.
The creche had a visitors' room, classroom, chapel, garden patio, two dormitories with six beds apiece, refectory and kitchen. The dormitories had sanitory installations but no running water. There were twelve children in the creche, of which the youngest was twenty-five months and the oldest eight and a half years. All the children were descended from at least one parent with leprosy, and all were born in the leprosarium.
The area for the patients had a chapel, general kitchen, two refectories (one for women, the other for men), and a number of identical houses sharing a bathroom and lavatory for every two houses.
When Araujo visited, there were 208 residents. He described daily life, writing that the residents ate in separate refectories, according to sex, and each brought their own plate and spoon. Many patients helped with daily tasks, others worked in vegetable gardens and fields. There were also shoemakers, carpenters, barbers and other trades, all carried out by patients. They did not receive any remuneration for this. Social activity was apparently non-existent.
At the time of Souza Araujo's visit, there had been no doctor at the leprosarium since 9 July 1932. This was the date on which Dr Antonio Justa left his post due to a lack of medication available. The sanitary distribution service only provided chaulmoogra. Any urgent medical supplies were bought by the nuns. Souza Araujo told of his visit with Dr Justa, whom the patients received with much pleasure, asking Araujo to make Justa return as the permanent doctor for the leprosarium.
Crime was not frequent, although in October 1932, a leprosy patient killed another in the leprosarium, "por motivo futil" [for a trivial reason].
A great problem was the lack of water. This resource was transported from Acarapé to Canafistula by train, then by lorry to the leprosarium. Due to this need, hygiene at the institution was unsatisfactory. Three wells were built in the vicinity, but none drew water fit to drink. Shortly before writing this report, Araujo had met with Dr Leorne de Menescal, Temporary Director of Public Health and Dr Antonio Justa, ex-Inspector of Leprosy Control for the State. They had all agreed that something must be done urgently about the water problem, and this was dealt with in Araujo's report to the government (18 March 1933). He suggested that the finances to improve the water supply be provided by the voluntary road tax, collected from the Ponte Metallica [Metal Bridge]. He also proposed the building of a leprosarium for 500 patients in the Trairy region.
(Araujo, H C S. 'Contribuição á epidemiologia e prophylaxia da lepra no norte do Brasil: VII.- A lepra no Estado do Ceará - Situação actual: Leprosario Antonio Diogo'. Mem. Inst. Osw. Cruz, 1933:27 (3) 268, 273-8)
Notes in Portuguese from information provided by Célia Rolim de Castro as part of the Brazilian Archival Preservation Project, 2007.
O antigo Leprosário de Canafistula, mais tarde Antônio Diogo, situado no município de Redenção - Ceará, foi fundado em 09 de agosto de 1928.
No Ceará, a criação de Leprosários, está muito ligada às POLÍTICAS DE CONTROLE DA HANSENÍASE DO BRASIL.
Na época da Inspetoria de Profilaxia da Lepra, criaram-se dois leprosários:
1928 - Leprosário de Canafístula - Redenção
1942 - Leprosário Antonio Justa – Maracanaú
1942 - Preventório Eunice Weaver .
Assim diz o Jornal Nordeste, no dia 07 de agosto de 1928:
“Na próxima quinta feira, às 07 horas em ponto, partirá da Central o trem que deverá levar os pobres lázaros à Colônia de Canafístula.Os doentes tomarão o comboio nas proximidades da capela dos navegantes..
O trem parará nas estações intermediárias, a fim de receber os leprosos...
Os vendedores ambulantes não deverão vender cousa alguma aos passageiros...” Os primeiros moradores, que para lá chegaram de trem, foram: Raimundo Gomes,Antônio Pereira Lima,Francisco Maia,Amélia Andrade de Sousa, Adelaide Maria, Altevi Rodrigues, Antônio Tabosa, Joaquim dos Santos,Emília Teixeira, Antônio Justino,, Raimunda Rodrigues, Francisca Rodrigues, Jardilina da Conceição, Ana Araújo, Ma. Luiza Alves, Francisco José Felício, Luiz Viana, Ernani Guedes, Assis Pereira, Manoel Ribeiro, Ma. Amélia Maciel, Francisco Correia, Deodato Gomes,, João Matias, Quintino Pereira, Bibiano Rodrigues,Edgar Paiva, João Augusto,Euclides Alexandre, Pedro Paiva, Raimundo Nonato Braga, Antônio Pereira da Silva, Benedito Augusto, Moacir de Holanda,, José Maciel, Maria Lina, Marcelina M. da Conceição, Luiz Soares, Ma. De Sousa Guimarães, Isabel Rufino, Marcelina Pinheiro, João Capistrano,Antônio Alves e Júlio Lourenço.
“ No dia seguinte, em ação de graças, foram celebradas missas em todas as Capelas de Fortaleza, em intenção do Coronel Antônio Diogo, “ a quem muito devem os nossos ineditosos doentes.” Diz Chico Lima em seu documentário “60 anos em busca do sol”
A 1º de setembro, chegou a Canafístula, a Irmã Maria Assunção, primeira Superiora da Instituição.”
3. Situação Atual:
Atualmente é denominado Centro de convivência Antônio Diogo e conta com uma estrutura administrativa assim composta:
Diretor Clinico: Luciano Xavier Ribeiro
Apoio técnico: Adília Maria Machad Feitosa
Apoio Administrativo: Rosa Maria da Silva de Moura.