Exploring the Complexities of Leprosy-related Stigma and the Potential of a Socio-economic Intervention in a Public Health Context in Indonesia
Purpose: This article explores the complexities of leprosy-related stigma and the potential effectiveness of a socio-economic intervention in Cirebon District, Indonesia.
Methods: A qualitative approach was adopted. 53 people affected by leprosy were interviewed, and 17 focus group discussions were conducted among people affected by leprosy, community and religious leaders, and health providers and other key persons who were all purposively selected.
Results: People affected by leprosy face major socio-economic consequences. This was confirmed by key persons. Several opportunities for a possible socio-economic intervention were perceived, as also the barriers. People affected by leprosy are constrained by certain aspects of the health system (e.g., the health providers’ negative attitudes), views in society (e.g., misunderstandings about the condition, stigma), and the physical and social consequences of the disease (impairments, feelings of shame). Study participants identified strategies to deal with these barriers, as well as specific activities for a socio-economic intervention; in particular, the training of staff responsible for implementation.
Conclusion and Implications: Socio-economic interventions in the field of leprosy need to anticipate the barriers and develop strategies to deal with them. Cooperation between people working in the health system and those in the welfare / financial system is needed, to improve the quality of life of people affected by leprosy
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