International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Dr Maxime Kuczynski-Godard

    Status Physician
    Country Peru


    Formerly Professor of Pathology at the University of Berlin, Dr Kuczynski left Germany to escape the Nazi regime. He organized expeditions to Siberia, Mongolia, China, Africa and Brazil. From 1937 he was based at the Institute of Social Medicine of San Marcos in Peru, and in the late 1930s and 1940s he carried out surveys of health in provincial areas. In 1940 the Peruvian government appointed him to head of the Health Supervisory Office for North-East Peru (Supervisión Sanitaria del Nord-Oriente Peruano). Part of his work was to direct and organize the San Pablo leprosy colony, which he continued to do until the Supervisión was closed in early 1944. He also set up a leprosy clinic in Iquitos.

    At San Pablo, Kuczynski broke with the previous tradition of medical treatment, in which contact with leprosy patients was avoided, and regularly tended to the patients himself. As part of his work, he administered chaulmoogra oil injections. Kuczynski's new regime at San Pablo was described by an anonymous former female patient who later became his assistant (Vida de Leprosa. Lima: La Reforma Medica, 1947).

    In May 1944, Kuczynski was appointed technical advisor to the Peruvian Ministry of Health for socio-medical surveys of the highlands and tropical forest.

    In 1948 there was a coup d'etat. Kuczynski was imprisoned on charges of sympathizing with the outlawed Aprista Party, but was released. He subsequently opened a medical office in downtown Lima. Dr Kuczynski died in 1967.

    Source: Marcos Cueto, "Social Medicine and 'Leprosy'", The Americas, 61.1 (2004): 55-80.


    MH Kuczynski-Godard and CEP Soldán, Dissección del Indigenismo Peruano, un emamen sociológico y medico social. Lima: Institutio de Medicina Social, 1948.


    San Pablo   Dr Kuczynski organised the colony during the 1940s and introduced a hands-on system of treating patients.
    Alan Mason Chesney Archives   Correspondence from Kuczynski to Sigerist is held in this collection.

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