To describe temporal trends and spatial patterns of leprosy-related mortality in the North and Northeast of Brazil from 2001 to 2017.
This population-based, mixed ecological study employed secondary data obtained from the Health Ministry’s Mortality Information System. Death certificates were examined for extraction of information on leprosy as underlying or contributing cause of death.
In the period of interest, 4 907 leprosy-related deaths were recorded. In 59.3%, leprosy was a contributing cause. “Leprosy, unspecified” (ICD-10 A30.9) was the most common cause recorded (72.7% as underlying cause; 76.1% as contributing cause). Increased risk of mortality by leprosy was observed in males, age ≥ 60 years and brown or black race/color. Joinpoint regression analysis of time trends revealed an increased overall mortality trend in the Northeast and in the states of Tocantins, Maranhão, Alagoas, and Bahia, as well as in the male sex. Regarding the spatial distribution of mortality rates adjusted by age and sex, as well as the analysis of moving spatial means and standardized mortality ratio, patterns that were above the mean for the area under study were identified for the states of Acre and Rondônia, the southern part of Pará, Tocantins, Maranhão, Piauí, south of Ceará, and north and south of Bahia.
Leprosy mortality in the Brazilian North and Northeast is expressive and persistent, with a focal pattern of distribution in more vulnerable territories and populations. Comprehensive leprosy care must be strengthened in the Unified Health System in these regions.