Revisiting the tuberculosis and leprosy sanatorium era: for the post COVID healthcare in India

Abhilash Sood, Mitasha Singh, Seema Rani


Leprosy and tuberculosis (TB) are ancient diseases. These have been referred to in the Vedas and Ayurvedic Samhitas too. As no chemotherapy was effective against these diseases till middle of the 20th century, the main line of treatment was good food, open air and dry climate. Open air sanatoriums were formed for treatment and isolation of TB patients. The first sanatorium was founded in 1906 in Tiluania, near Ajmer, followed by one in Almora two years later. In 1909, the first non-missionary sanatorium was built near Shimla. Similarly, social stigma was the reason for creation of leprosy sanatoriums. First leprosy sanatorium was opened in 1925 at The school of tropical medicine, Calcutta and in 1955 the first research centre; The Lady Willingdon leprosy sanatorium, Chingleput (presently central leprosy teaching and research institute). These centers also contributed to knowledge of natural history of the disease and treatment. Subsequently many sanatoriums were set up at geographical locations which were at outskirts of cities, or at hilly terrains.1 One of the major reasons of setting up these sanatoria was to isolate the patients and prevent spread of disease further, in absence of medicines. Later on, many other infectious disease hospitals were also opened up, to cater to patients suffering from other infectious diseases.


Tuberculosis, Leprosy, Isolation hospitals, COVID

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