Sao Luis, Brazil, Nov 30th 2005 :: Antonio Pereira Santos doesn't remember his own age. Coming from the backlands, he got confined at Bonfim Leprosarium for 23 years. After the colony deactivation, he moved to a slum in the outskirts of Bonfim. Antonio suffers from mental and psychological problems due to the emotional impact of the disease ::
BRIEF CONTEXTUALIZATION ::
By the end of 2005, only nine countries in the world didn't eliminate Leprosy as a public health problem. Among them, Brazil shows up with scary statistics: in 2004, the number of new cases in the country reached 49,000; in the same period, the whole Africa registered 47,000 new cases and the Americas registered 52,000 - more than 90% of new cases in the continent appear in Brazilian lands.
In the last century, the treatment for the disease in Brazil comprehended the patients full isolation in leprosariums. These people were caught from their homes and families and trapped into small communities, usually forever. From 1976 on, due to changes in Brazilian public health policies, the colonies were partially or fully deactivated and their patients were abandoned without any policy for social reintegration. Without a place to go, they remain around these archaic structures until now, dying one by one slow and silently ::