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Colombia Médica

On-line version ISSN 1657-9534


MARTINEZ, Abel Fernando  and  GUATIBONZA, Samuel Alfonso. How Colombia became the world’s major leprosy potency 1869-1916. Colomb. Med. [online]. 2005, vol.36, n.4, pp.244-253. ISSN 1657-9534.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze medical, church, and state relationships, in the Colombian conversion process to become world’s major leprosy potency from 1869 to 1916. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The present historical study is based on summaries and analyses of primary sources in archives and libraries. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: By the middle of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, Boyacá appears like one of the regions of Colombia with bigger population. Time of civil wars and migrations, characterized by a particular concern: leprosy. An illness whose great number of sick people, matter handling and its relationship with war, misery and hunger suffered in the country; motivated discussion, analyses and controversies among medicine, state and church. CONCLUSIONS: Statistical data of the time pointed out leprosy as a harm expanded dangerously across Colombia, and Boyacá as one of the most affected regions; these exaggerations transformed Colombia into an immense leprosarium. Finally, after the appearance of the first medical statistic and bacteriological diagnoses, it was recognized that Colombia was not the world’s major leprosy potency neither Boyacá an immense lazaretto, as it was postulated both nationally and internationally

Keywords : Leprosy; Environment and Public Health history; Colombia.

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