British Leprosy Relief Association
Assessment of needs and quality care issues of women with leprosy
Sundar RaoPamidipani Samuelb
aTLM Premananda Memorial Leprosy Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
bThe Leprosy Mission Trust, New Delhi, India
Correspondence to: PS Sundar Rao, Head Resource Centre, TLM Media Centre, B-13 A, Institutional Area, Sector 62, Noida, U.P. 201 307, India (Tel: +91 0120 3228990; Fax: +91 011 23710803; e-mail: email@example.com)
Leprosy causes not just physical but psychosocial and economic problems which are further magnified in women due to gender disadvantages especially in developing countries. In order to determine the needs and quality care issues of women leprosy patients attending a hospital/health care facility, a research project was done.
All women leprosy patients attending a Leprosy Referral Hospital in Kolkata, India during 2006 were interviewed in depth and clinically assessed, using a standardised proforma.
Of 104 women studied, half below 40 years of age and 70% above 40 years, had visible disability, and some had diabetes, low back pain etc. Nearly 60% preferred to hide their disease but even so, some had social problems. Most women delayed going to hospital, until their husband/guardian felt it was necessary. They had to complete their household chores before setting out for the hospital, and after their return. A considerable amount of time was spent waiting at various service points which conflicted with their domestic work, and lowered their social worth if they were away too long. This de-motivated them from visiting hospitals, even for follow up visits. Medical advice given – such as avoiding prolonged walking and standing, working with hot utensils etc., was not practical.
Hospitals can do much to address the needs of women leprosy patients and. provide quality services. National programmes should give a higher priority to offering culturally acceptable health education to promote early reporting.