LEPRA uses ESRI GIS solution to help double detection rates of leprosy in Brazil and improve allocation of the charity’s resources

March 09, 2007 -- The British Leprosy Relief Association (LEPRA) is using a Geographic Information System (GIS) from ESRI (UK) to identify ‘hidden’ leprosy cases in Brazil.

The UK’s leader in enterprise GIS is providing LEPRA with its ArcMap software and hand held GPS systems, enabling LEPRA to pin-point areas in Northeast Brazil where leprosy is most prevalent.

The detection rate doubled with 225 new cases reported in the first year of LEPRA’s project as a result of working with ESRI (UK) and combining new data with other public health cases found and entering it in the GIS. Using handheld devices Lepra could also register and map details of sufferers without defined addresses and feed the new details into the system.

LEPRA has made an 80 per cent cost saving on earlier campaigns using ESRI (UK)’s GIS. The GIS project is now being extended across the Northeast region of Brazil and the charity is also training employees in India to use ArcView GIS software for a similar project later this year.

Monitoring Northeast Brazil’s leprosy patients had proved difficult in the past and LEPRA believed that official figures did not give a complete picture of the true extent of the problem. Potentially thousands of people with leprosy were living undetected and without treatment as most cases of the disease occur in poverty-stricken and often difficult to reach places.

Efficient data collection through the ESRI (UK) system gives LEPRA a more realistic visual representation of leprosy concentration areas. Such precise mapping aids the understanding of specific environmental factors associated with the disease and helps LEPRA determine the most relevant areas to allocate resources to carry out control and treatment campaigns.

Rene Vargas, programmes director, LEPRA said: “The use of ESRI’s GIS has proven effective and inexpensive in the fight against leprosy. We now have the most complete picture of leprosy cases in Brazil available and believe that the monitoring and control of other diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria will also benefit greatly from the use of GIS.”

Richard Waite, managing director, ESRI (UK), said: “The project being carried out by LEPRA illustrates how wide reaching the use of GIS can be. Using ArcMap to gather missing geo-referenced data of known leprosy patients, and hand held GPS systems to visit the homes of patients without defined addresses, LEPRA has located and assisted hundreds of undetected people with leprosy.”


LEPRA is a UK registered charity working to address the unmet health needs for people affected by leprosy, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other health conditions exacerbated by poverty, discrimination and stigma. It works to change people’s lives in addition to addressing the effects of disease.

LEPRA currently supports programmes and projects covering nine countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America covering a population of approximately 300 million.

As well as direct service provision through local staff, we also support national and local NGOs, and work with governments, communities and other change agents to achieve the greatest possible impact. We support national and local government programmes both financially and technically.

About ESRI (UK)

ESRI (UK) is part of the global ESRI network. With the single, largest pool of GIS expertise in the UK, the company is the technical authority on GIS. ESRI (UK) provides solutions, technology and services including off the shelf applications built on the ArcGIS software suite and an extensive range of consulting and training services.

Its offerings meet a range of business needs in different markets including Business, Local & Central Government, Public Safety, Utilities and Telecommunications, as well as catering for system integrators and application developers through the ESRI Developer Network.

ESRI (UK)’s customers include both public sector and commercial clients such as Manchester City Council, Royal and Sun Alliance, Thames Water, National Grid and The Environment Agency. ESRI (UK) also works with charities such as MapAction, Birdlife International and the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership.

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