The approach to the leprosy problem in the past in Indonesia. A historical review of leprosy control activities in Indonesia during the last centuries.Trop Geogr Med. 1993 Mar; 45(1):2-5.TG
Due to the severe disabilities leprosy has always been a disease which appealed to the imagination. In bygone centuries cause and treatment were unknown and the fear to be infected was enormous. In Indonesia medical officers struggled with the problem. As early as the 17th century the disease was described in detail by Ten Rhijne. In the 19th century leprosy was considered hereditary. After the discovery of the leprosy bacillus by Hansen in 1873, confusion continued as the bacillus could not be cultivated. Many therapies were tried, but with no result. At first patients were isolated in leprosaria, later on a more humane system of house-isolation was introduced. Since 1932 Indonesian medical officers have played a prominent part in research and the determination of the future approach to the problem. Seen against the background of our present knowledge about the disease, it is interesting to follow the struggle against leprosy in the past.