World Health Organisation:
‘In 1937 Dapsone, the first of a new sub‑class of sulpha drugs called the Sulphones was produced. Dapsone was found to be thirty times more active but only fifteen times more toxic than Sulphanilamide and in the 1940s is tested as a possible cure for Tuberculosis. Regrettably it is not effective but tests against rat leprosy provide dramatic results. Soon it was tried on human volunteers and by the mid 1940s it was believed that the miracle cure for Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) has finally been found.’
Dr Eric Reye (Medical Officer, Peel Island Lazaret):
‘On the 23rd of January 1947, twenty of Peel’s most severe cases received their first doses. The philosophy behind its administration was to deliver the maximum amount of drug in the shortest time, and as such the Promin was delivered by intravenous administration each morning for six days each week. In all, by the end of April, my assistants and I have given 1,677 Promin injections, and the results were most encouraging!
(Promin is broken down in the body to dapsone, which is the therapeutic form.)
Thirtieth Session of the National Health and Medical Research Council:
‘The Commonwealth Government should pass a special Act granting to certain Lepers allowances along the lines of those available to sufferers of TB under the TB Act’.
However, the Commonwealth Government refused to accede to the recommendation.
Seventh International Congress of Leprology in Tokyo:
‘The Congress is unequivocally in favour of the abandonment of strict segregation and other restrictive practices as currently applied to Hansen’s patients.’
Following this Congress, a full report was made to the Queensland Parliament, which then implemented legislation for the transfer of the lazaret from Peel Island to Ward S12 at the South Brisbane (now Princess Alexandra) Hospital. Such recommendations were contained in the Health Acts Amendment Act of 1959 (Division VI ‑ Leprosy), which replaced the Leprosy Act of 1892.
‘If isolation is deemed to be necessary, then it must be done within the community, in special wards at community hospitals, where patients and their relatives can go without fear of community ostracism.
‘These are the lessons we can learn from Peel Island. Its past was grim, at one time hopeless, but it should never be forgotten that such events did occur right here at our doorstep, and in recent times. Let Peel Island always remain as a symbol of the individual’s determination to live on in the face of hopelessness, and of mankind’s ability to conquer such terrible afflictions as can beset our community at any time.’