International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Georges Barbezieux

    Status Physician
    Country France


    Dr Georges Barbezieux was a French leprologist who undertook several studies of leprosy in French Indochina in the early 20th century. He worked for the French colonial authority’s Assistance Medicale Indigene (AMI), a health care system aimed at the indigenous population.

    In 1912, Barbezieux was tasked with overseeing the Service des Léproseries, a program for the creation of five leprosaria in the Tonkin region of modern-day Vietnam: Van Mon, Te Truong, Qua Cam, Huong Phong, and Lieu Xa. Together, these leprosaria would eventually house around 5000 people.

    Barbezieux was committed to creating an environment of relative freedom and normality for the inmates. In each colony, he established marketplaces, political councils, and places of worship. Each inmate was given a monthly allowance, and interaction between men and women was allowed.

    In 1913, Barbezieux called for further funding to provide medical services to each leprosarium. His request was granted, and the funds were doubled, but the demands of the program continued to exceed the allotted budget. Other medical professionals expressed concerns that these leprosaria did not achieve complete isolation of the patients, and with the additional budgetary demands of the outbreak of war, the program was abandoned by 1915.

    Barbezieux also published scholarly articles on the study of leprosy in history.


    Monnais, Laurence. "‘Could confinement be humanised’? A modern history of leprosy in Vietnam." In Lewis, Milton J, and Kerrie L MacPherson, eds. Public Health in Asia and the Pacific: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. Routledge (2007): 122-38.


    Barbezieux, G. (1914) "Contribution à l'Etude de l'Histoire de la Lèpre dans la Plus Haute Antiquité." Janus (Leiden) 19:132-149.

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