The implementation of multidrug therapy (MDT) has been highly effective in curing patients and reducing leprosy prevalence. In some countries, however, a significant number of cases remain undetected or are detected late. Although compliance with drug therapy is generally good, a significant proportion still defaults treatment in countries where the leprosy burden is still high. This paper proposes that leprosy control or elimination efforts might be enhanced by the application of social marketing principles. It first outlines the principles of social marketing and then reviews a successful social marketing campaign in Sri Lanka to increase case detection and treatment. The paper concludes with a discussion of the opportunities for using social marketing principles to enhance the success of current leprosy community heath education programmes and leprosy treatment services.
Paralysis of ulnar, median and radial nerves is seen in less than 1% of those affected with leprosy. This condition is a particular challenge for the surgeon, physiotherapist, and patient. A retrospective chart review was conducted at the Green Pastures Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre (GPHRC) and Anandaban Leprosy Hospital (ALH) in Nepal, and results were graded by the system outlined by Sundararaj in 1984. Thirty-one patients were identified, and 21 charts were available for review. Excellent or good results were obtained in 93% of patients for wrist extension, 85% of patients for finger extension, 90% of patients for thumb extension, 71% of patients for intrinsic reconstruction, and 63% of patients for thumb opposition reconstruction. These results are reasonable but inferior to those obtained by Sundararaj in his study. Surgical intervention offers a very significant improvement in function in these very difficult hands. Intensive physiotherapy is required both pre- and postoperatively.
In South Africa, leprosy has been a notifiable condition since 1921. Although the WHO elimination target of less than one case per 10,000 population has been achieved at country level, the distribution of leprosy in the country is distinctly heterogeneous, with a prominent ‘leprosy belt’ of greater prevalence stretching across Mpumalanga Province into northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. The highest prevalence in this ‘belt’ has historically been in Ermelo District. Recent trends of few newly detected leprosy patients in this district raised concerns that health system changes may have resulted in failure to detect leprosy cases. Thus a large-scale community awareness campaign was conducted followed by an intensively advertised screening programme of 3-month duration at schools and central gathering points in villages and farms from 1 June to 31 August 2000. One thousand one hundred and seventy-seven people presented for clinical screening at designated points, while 790 scholars were screened at schools and an additional 1433 people were screened at their homes by the field team. Forty-four people with skin or nervous system lesions compatible with leprosy were referred for specialized assessment and biopsy where indicated. Four new leprosy patients were diagnosed, including an elderly lady with pronounced disability. Two of these patients had prior contact with the health service due to dermatological manifestations of leprosy without diagnosis being made. All patients provided a history of close prolonged contact with known leprosy patients. Ongoing intense tracing and follow-up of close contacts of proven leprosy cases may be a more efficient method of detecting leprosy cases in areas with relatively stable populations that have accomplished ‘leprosy elimination’, than resource intensive community surveys.
Leprosy is a highly stigmatized disease that apart from the physical ailments and the deformities causes psycho-socio-economic problems to the people affected. As a result of social rejection, leprosy colonies were formed inhabited by the leprosy-affected families. With inadequate socioeconomic support and help, these people often have resorted to beggary as a way to earn their living. This study is an attempt to look into the lives of the leprosy-affected people living in the leprosy colony in Ambala City, Haryana, north-west State of India and who have accepted beggary as their source of income. The psychosocial impact of leprosy and the subjects’ attitude towards beggary has been studied. The study comprised 21 families, including, 22 men, 21 women and 40 children. Seventy-one percent of the families came from Southern India. All the men and nine of the women were leprosy-affected. The proportion of people with deformity was 89%. Prior to contracting leprosy, all of the men were employed, mainly in agriculture and physical labour. At present, all are beggars. Of the 20 who were interviewed, 65% of those who beg and 83% of other adults were illiterate. Fifty percent of the children were in need of education. Due to leprosy, the social interaction of 85% of the interviewees was limited to within the colony and of 88% to only other leprosy-affected people. Through their own organized efforts, they raised welfare services and housing for themselves. None of them liked begging to start with but have accepted it as a source of income. If given a chance and support, 80% said they were ready to quit begging. They were concerned about the education of their children. The study highlighted the need to develop alternate avenues of income generation utilizing the existing desires and potential of the inhabitants.