Brazil will have a rapid test for the detection of leprosy available in the SUS

The Ministry of Health will distribute rapid tests for the detection of leprosy in the health units of the Unified Health System (SUS) in the country. The information was released this Tuesday (25/1), during an event alluding to the month of fighting the disease.

According to the Ministry of Health, Brazil will be the first country in the world to offer exams at the assistance level, free of charge. The agency will invest around R$ 3.7 million in the purchase of tests.

According to the secretary of Health Surveillance at the ministry, Arnaldo Medeiros, the folder is in the phase of purchasing leprosy tests. The use of the exams was approved by the National Commission for Incorporation of Technologies in the SUS (Conitec) this month.

“In January, we received approval from Conitec for the incorporation of the test for diagnosing leprosy. We are in the phase of purchasing these kits, we will distribute them in primary care. This is of great importance for our country,” said Arnaldo.

According to the Ministry of Health, the tests of the GenoType and NAT Hans models will initially be distributed in ten Brazilian states by the end of 2022. By the end of 2023, the folder intends to offer the tests in the 27 federative units.

The rapid tests of the immunochromatic model will be offered in the Basic Health Units (UBS).

“Caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, leprosy affects mainly peripheral nerves and skin, and can cause physical disabilities, especially in the hands, feet and eyes,” the agency said.


According to the Ministry of Health, between 2016 and 2020, 155,300 cases of leprosy were diagnosed in Brazil. Of the total, 86,200 occurred in males, representing 55.5% of patients.

According to Secretary Arnaldo Medeiros, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the general detection rates of new cases of leprosy dropped dramatically. In 2011, the overall case detection rate was 17.65 per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2020, the index dropped to 8.49, a reduction of 51.9%.

Most patients are brown, aged between 40 and 59 years old. “This represents the vulnerability profile of patients who become infected, of those who have this disease”, explained Arnaldo.

In 2019, the folder launched the National Strategy for Combating Leprosy 2019-2022. The objective of the action is to reduce the disease burden by the end of 2022, with the following goals:

  1. Reduce to 30 the total number of children with grade 2 physical disability;
  2. Reduce to 8.83/1 million inhabitants the rate of people with degree 2 of physical incapacity;
  3. Implement channels for recording practices that discriminate against people affected by the disease in all Federation Units;

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