Leprosy Mailing List – December 28, 2017
Ref.: (LML) Fear from leprosy and lepraphobia
From: KP Dhakal, Kathmandu, Nepal
Thank you for raising this important issue of leprophobia.
As a leprologist working in leprosy clinics and hospitals and in leprosy control programs in field situation in communities for over 30 years in Nepal, I used to face similar incidents of people fearing from leprosy. Many times, people from leprosy field label it as stigma against leprosy, but in my experience, leprophobia is the factor which causes stigma against leprosy and that stigma causes fear from leprosy, a vicious cycle. This is the fear of getting disease and consequently fear of being isolated. This is the reason why people isolate leprosy affected persons in the family, in the neighbourhoods or even in the communities.
During my work, I came across number of health workers taking medicines (MDT) secretly in order to prevent themselves from getting the disease. I encountered a nurse working in primary health centre, who was also looking after the leprosy patients there, felt some tingling sensation on her fingers. This phenomenon she related with leprosy and was so much anxious and started consulting to different hospitals including a number of leprosy hospitals. She did all sorts of investigations, visited big leprosy hospitals in India also. Everywhere the doctors explained her that it was not leprosy. But she was not convinced and lastly, she developed depression and was sent to a psychiatrist for management.
I think we need to educate the communities about the truths of leprosy to tackle such issues.
Dr K P Dhakal (Dermatologist/Leprologist, and public health expert)
CD, Netherlands Leprosy Relief
LML - S Deepak, B Naafs, S Noto and P Schreuder
LML blog link: http://leprosymailinglist.blogspot.it/
Contact: Dr Pieter Schreuder << email@example.com