Volume 3 Issue 12 - June 15, 2005

Awareness about leprosy minimal in Delhi: Study

DNIS News Network - People in the national capital harbour misconceptions about leprosy even after a four-decade-long campaign against the crippling but fully treatable disease, according to a recent study.

The study by Centre for Media Studies found that every third graduate in the city holds the belief that leprosy is a ‘curse’, a perception one would have assumed to be confined to the medieval age. The findings of the study show that though leprosy is near complete eradication in Delhi, the campaign appears to have failed in eleminating social stigma and community expulsion of cured patients.

Only 33 per cent men and even lesser number of women (14 per cent) seemed informed about the basic symptom of ‘pale patches without sensation’. Even among graduates only one out of three respondents seemed aware of the symptom. “Ignorance, and reluctance to take back cured leprosy patients in the mainstream continues, and is in fact high in the city,” Alok Srivastava of the Centre for Media Studies was quoted as saying.

Figures showed that 90 per cent men and a little less than 84 per cent women in Delhi seemed ignorant about symptoms of leprosy and identified ‘white patches’ as one of its symptoms. More could associate deformation of fingers, nose, ears and eyes, with leprosy (male-55 per cent and female-72 per cent).

“Three out of every five persons also accepted that leprosy infected persons are not allowed to lead a normal life. To add to one’s dismay, graduates constitute 75 per cent of them. Seventy five per cent people felt that leprosy-infected do not reveal their disease due to fear of not being accepted by society,” explained Srivastava.

The study, conducted in March this year, covered the age group of 21-40 years of which 58 per cent were graduates and above, while one-tenth of the surveyed population was less than secondary (Class X) level educated. Most of the men and women interviewed were employed. Of the rest, among men, around 30 per cent were traders and shopkeepers and around one-fourth of the women interviewed were students and housewives.

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