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Feb 16, 2012
Stigma and Conflict Enable Leprosy to Persist in Ivory Coast
AUTHOR:Irin News SOURCE:Irin News
In developed nations, leprosy is a disease of the past. According to the NIH, as few as 100 cases of leprosy are diagnosed in the United States yearly. With such a low prevalence leprosy has been largely forgotten.
The Ivory Coast has seen a decrease in leprosy-related health services in recent years. Funding for the disease has dropped by 70% in the past decade; a decline caused in part by political turmoil. Massive gaps in coverage are directly related to a weakened infrastructure and a lack of healthcare workers. Stock-outs for medications are not a problem. WHO supplies the antibiotics.
In addition to the disfiguring nature of leprosy, it is perceived as a disease of the poor. The shame and stigma causes patients to become reclusive, which leads them to avoid work. Some people even believe that sufferers are cursed. To deny oneself treatment due to stigma, coupled with the lack of healthcare resources for those who seek care, leprosy remains a public health emergency in the Ivory Coast, as well as other undeveloped nations.
LfM believes that the medical community should acknowledge all debilitating diseases, regardless of their prevalence or notoriety. The rehabilitation of health care services in war torn regions is imperative, and the fear of all stigmatized diseases (including HIV) should be mitigated through education. Political will can go a long way to help these unfortunate people. To read the entire article click here:http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=94814