British Leprosy Relief Association
Can social marketing approaches change community attitudes towards leprosy?
aFlat 2/2, 21 Step Row, Dundee, DD2 1AF, UK
Correspondence to: W. Brown (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This essay explores how the concept of social marketing can be employed to change attitudes towards leprosy. Firstly, the concept of social marketing is discussed, then the attitudes that people have about leprosy, the stigma that people with leprosy and their families may face, and the detrimental effects that this can have on their lives. The effect of knowledge and education on attitudes towards leprosy is discussed, as this can be a key component of social marketing campaigns. Various methods of social marketing used to change attitudes and reduce stigma are examined, such as mass media campaigns, school based education, methods which involve community leaders, and the integration and improvement of leprosy services. Principles of social marketing which can lead to the success of campaigns such as incorporating local beliefs are emphasized. The success of the social marketing campaign in Sri Lanka is described, which aimed to remove the fear of leprosy, and to encourage patients to seek and comply with treatment. Finally, it is argued that social marketing, used correctly, can be highly effective at changing community attitudes towards leprosy, reducing stigma and improving the lives of patients, who become able to seek treatment sooner as they lose their fear of stigmatization.