Brazil is the only country in the globe failing to reach the World Health Organization’s standard for leprosy elimination. Over the last two years, the number of new cases throughout the country has been on the rise for the first time in nearly two decades.
This is especially apparent in the northern state of Pará, which over the last half century has recorded more new cases of leprosy than any other state in the country. It’s here that Dr. Claudio Salgado, a veteran leprologist and president of the Brazilian Leprosy Society, and his team of leprologists focus their work.
While modern medicine can cure the Biblical infectious disease, leprosy is infamously difficult to diagnose. If left untreated, the disease can cause severe disfigurement and disability. Without enough leprologists accurately identifying and treating symptoms, thousands of more locals are at risk of being exposed.
With reporting from across Pará, this project explores how shorthanded specialists are trying to curb the rise in cases throughout the areas most devastated by leprosy. It also looks into the lives of those most affected by the disease.