Epidemiological behavior of leprosy in several Latin American countries, 2011-2020



To describe the epidemiological behavior of leprosy in several Latin American countries during 2011-2020, based on World Health Organization (WHO) indicators.


Cross-sectional, descriptive and quantitative study with official data on incidence and prevalence in the general population, children, clinical form and cases with grade 2 disability from WHO records between 2011 and 2020. The eight countries in Latin America that reported most cases were selected and analyses were carried out using simple descriptive and comparative statistics between different variables.


During the study period, 301 312 cases of leprosy were reported in the selected countries: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Brazil is the only country in the region with a prevalence greater than 1 per 10 000, representing 93.77% of all cases. Brazil and the Dominican Republic showed an increase in prevalence during 2011-2019, while in other countries the trend was decreasing. The disease is more frequent in men, and multibacillary cases significantly exceed paucibacillary ones. Brazil showed the highest incidences of cases of childhood leprosy and grade 2 disability during the evaluated period.


In Latin America, leprosy is only considered a public health problem in Brazil; however, most countries in the region continue to report cases annually, revealing a lack of adequate medical care. This study confirmed the importance of active surveillance, early diagnosis and planning of actions against the disease in all the countries evaluated with the aim of reducing its transmission.

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