British Leprosy Relief Association
Dehabilitation of leprosy-affected people—a study on leprosy-affected beggars
aThe Leprosy Mission India, New Delhi 110 001, India
bTLM Research Resource Centre, 5, Amrita Shergill Marg, New Delhi 110 003, India
Correspondence to: H. Kaur, 3249 Benthollow Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096, USA (e-mail: kaur˙email@example.com)
Leprosy is one of the most socially stigmatized diseases known today. Social stigma is associated mainly due to the prevalent myths like its hereditary and contagious nature, divine curse along with the physical deformities caused. The affected people not only face physical impairments but also suffer psychosocial repercussions due to the community’s attitude. The long-term physical and psychosocial restrictions slowly push the leprosy- affected person out of the society. With lack of social support and self-confidence, some dehabilitated leprosy-affected persons end up as beggars. The present study focuses on the long-term consequences of leprosy. It is based on case studies of leprosy-affected beggars in Delhi. The process of dehabilitation in each case has been studied. It has been found that dehabilitation is a continuous process. The combination of leprosy, physical impairments and social stigma causing further participation restriction, lead to dehabilitation of people affected by leprosy, and ending in a state of beggary for some. There is a need to develop a holistic approach including both prevention of dehabilitation and rehabilitation of those dehabilitated to overcome both the disease and its consequences. Measures to prevent such dehabilitation in future along with the rehabilitation of leprosy-affected beggars have been suggested. Both these measures should take place simultaneously.