SIMLEP: a simulation model for leprosy transmission and control.
SIMLEP is a computer program for modeling the transmission and control of leprosy which can be used to project epidemiologic trends over time, producing output on indicators such as prevalence, incidence and case-detection rates of leprosy. In SIMLEP, health states have been defined that represent immunologic conditions and stages of leprosy infection and disease. Three types of interventions are incorporated: vaccination, case detection and chemotherapy treatment. Uncertainties about leprosy have led to a flexible design in which the user chooses which of many aspects should be included in the model. These aspects include natural immunity, asymptomatic infection, type distribution of new cases, delay between onset of disease and start of chemotherapy, and mechanisms for leprosy transmission. An example run illustrates input and output of the program. The output produced by SIMLEP can be readily compared with observed data, which allows for validation studies. The support that SIMLEP can give to health policy research and actual decision making will depend upon the extent of validation that has been achieved. SIMLEP can be used to improve the understanding of observed leprosy trends, for example, in relation to early detection campaigns and the use of multidrug therapy, by exploring which combinations of assumptions can explain these trends. In addition, SIMLEP allows for scenario analysis in which the effects of control strategies combining different interventions can be simulated and evaluated.