Impact of integration on the profile of newly diagnosed leprosy patients attending a referral hospital in South India.
This article compares the clinical profile of new untreated leprosy patients attending a referral hospital (The Schieffelin Institute for Health Research & Leprosy Centre, formerly known as SLR&TC, Karigiri, South India, in post-integration period (2005-2007) with that during the pre-integration period (1995-1996). A total of 529 patients--259 in pre-integration and 270 in post-integration period--were seen at this hospital. The clinical data culled from records for the earlier period were compared with data gathered prospectively for the latter period and was analyzed using SPSS software. The results showed a significant increase in the mean age of registration, percent multibacillary (clinical criteria) and grade 2 diabilities in post-integration period. Increase in proportion of cases with grade 2 deformities is a matter of concern and suggests continued need for referral hospitals for their management and also population based overall assessment whether actual numbers with deformities have increased or it is peculiar to a tertiary care hospital where the cases with problems may be coming. As the proportion of bacteriological positive cases was not found to change, it is a positive sign of effective coverage in the post-integration scenario in this population.