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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy




When a child or grandchild of segregated leprosy patients sets eyes on the "Rotating Examination Table" currently on display at the Culion Museum and Archives, a big smile is sure to cross his or her face. Most if not all children born and raised inside the "leper section" of Culion Island in the Philippines stood upon this table in their younger days. As the table turned, every inch of their skin would be carefully examined and recorded. Suspicious lesions were tested for sensation and peripheral nerves were palpated to see if they were enlarged.

Few of them can forget how, twice a year, the local policeman assigned to the clinic would come to the classroom with a list of names of those scheduled for examination. Known as "reconoser," this routine examination for leprosy continued up until the early 1980s on Culion, which was once the world's largest leprosy colony.

Outside the examination room, the children would wait silently and anxiously for the nurse to call their name. Once summoned inside, the child would mount the table and be meticulously examined by Dr Casimiro B. Lara, a dedicated leprologist who spent almost 60 years on Culion

Positive signs of leprosy necessitated further tests and a longer stay at the clinic. Those pronounced negative or "clean" were sent home with candy, a can of condensed milk or a bag of powdered milk.

For students who had not prepared their assignments or done their homework, the visit of the local policeman summoning them to "reconoser" was a godsend. It gave them an excuse to miss class and the chance to get a treat

- Dr. Arturo C. Cunanan