Why is it important to know about leprosy well (Marathi)

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Many false beliefs about leprosy are still widespread in many communities. People diagnosed with leprosy are wrongly rejected, excluded or refused to participate in social life, in religious festivals or other activities. Sometimes even a divorce is wrongly considered as acceptable for this reason.

This leads to a great fear of the disease and people may try to hide when she or he detects first signs or is diagnosed with leprosy.

This affects especially girls or women. They often do not have the same access to education like men have and are dependent. This creates fear in them that that the disease will lower their social worth and they will be abandoned from the family or will have less opportunity to get a job and will be affected by poverty.

Also, girls and women are often ignored when they are developing first signs.

All this is very dangerous. As a consequence, the person does not get the full treatment or starts treatment late and the disease may already have developed and caused long-term damages by the time treatment is sought.

Also, the disease can be transmitted and infect other people around.

With these false beliefs persons affected with leprosy also have to handle a lot of mental issues. They still have to face discrimination, social rejection or exclusion and the person starts to believe that she or he isn’t worthy. She or he moves away from taking care of her – or himself and to protect the body from further damage. This reduces the effectiveness of the treatment and as a result, it can lead to body impairments.

Also, owing to false beliefs about disabilities, the person affected has to face rejection and this may reduce her or his chances of getting a job or getting married. It can lead to poverty and exclusion as well and can cause mental health conditions, like depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts. This makes it even more difficult to care for the body and sometimes this can lead to self-harming behavior.

All this can be avoided if everybody has correct information about leprosy, its transmission and the treatment, and instead of excluding her or him, support the person affected by leprosy.

If you empower yourself in the community to detect the early signs, everybody who is infected can start the treatment early. This way, the person can recover completely and will have no impairments of the body. The person will not be excluded from the community and is not affected by poverty and then there is no need to fear the disease.

  • German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association - www.dahw.de