World Leprosy Day: Stop the Stigma and Discrimination of Lepers

, ()

Every human being definitely wants to have a healthy body and not be affected by disease. However, there are some people who, during their midlife or as adults, contract a disease that results in disability, for example, leprosy. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is an infection caused by bactery Mycobacterium leprae. It can take up to 20 years before the infection symptoms appear due to the slow growth of these bacteria.

When someone is declared cured of leprosy, it is very difficult to rejoin or re-involve the community because many people are still afraid. The problem that arises in this case is that it is caused by discrimination from society and the existence of a negative stigma on leprosy patients so that leprosy  choose to separate themselves from the community group.

The lack of public knowledge and understanding about leprosy and the erroneous belief in leprosy causes fear among people to this day. In terms of social impact, not only patients receive discrimination, insults, ridicule, and scorn, but this also affects the patients’ family. Because of this, many patients think that everything is over, they will experience psychological impacts and the enthusiasm to recover from the disease will disappear because they feel hopeless.

Leprosy Transition Methods

The exact mechanism by which leprosy spreads between people is still unknown. According to the current thinking of scientific experts, transmission can occur when a person with leprosy coughs or sneezes and a healthy person breathes air containing the bacteria. Leprosy transmission must be carried out for months, continuous and close contact with untreated patients. You will not be infected with leprosy if you interact with patients such as shaking hands or hugging, sitting next to lepers, and a mother will not pass this disease on to her baby.

Leprosy Patients Challenges

Leprosy primarily affects people in countries with limited resources. Many patients have difficulty accessing health care because of the high cost of going to a doctor and the long distances to reach a clinic that can treat leprosy. Because of this, many of those who suffer from leprosy eventually do not complete treatment or receive no treatment at all. In fact, WHO has a program that provides free leprosy treatment. Due to the ongoing stigma attached to people with leprosy, they may not seek help when symptoms first appear, resulting in delays in diagnosis and continued disability. When in fact, Hansen’s disease can be cured with antibiotics. Education and increasing access to basic health services are keys to success in eliminating the stigma, discrimination, and disability associated with leprosy. The existence of stigma and discrimination can cause patients to be embarrassed to go out and seek treatment because they are afraid of other people’s views when they meet themselves. Thus, this can result in patients not wanting treatment and choosing to remain hidden. Points that can be discussed in this regard include:

Previously, people’s views were very negative compared to now because leprosy patients are very bad if they are heard in the community. This is because the disease can be transmitted so that social discrimination occurs in children with leprosy. Society’s stigma has now begun to decrease a little because leprosy patients have started to be good at cleaning their bodies, often going for medical treatment to avoid the bad views of society. There are still leprosy patients who are shy about interacting with other normal people, but now you can feel it is somewhat less than before.

Hopefully what has been described in this article can increase knowledge and provide information about leprosy people, and especially how we can be more accepting. To prevent transmission, we can adopt a healthy lifestyle by strengthening the immune system to prevent infection. Patients are also strongly advised to use the infrastructure that has been provided by the government and health authorities in assisting the healing process of leprosy. Thus, the number of leprosy patients can decrease and leprosy patients do not have to worry about the public’s opinion of them.


Written by: Amelia

Translate »