Experiences of Stigmatization and Discrimination: Insights and Perspectives of Cured Lepers and their Caregivers

This was a joint presentation made by Dr. Emmanuel Asampong, Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health and Dr. Mavis Dako Gyeke Head of Department, Social Work, both of University of Ghana, Legon.

All over the world, leprosy is regarded a public health concern given that permanent disabilities could develop if intervention is delayed or improperly implemented. While advances in medical care have reduced the incidence of leprosy in developing countries, including Ghana, its negative effects on victims still linger on indefinitely due to the permanent impairments. Though previous studies in Ghana have focused on persons infected and affected by leprosy, there is paucity of studies that capture their voices. Using a qualitative research methodology, this study explored the experiences of cured lepers and their caregivers regarding stigmatization and discrimination. The objectives of the study were to find out (a) cured lepers’ and their caregivers’ perceptions about stigmatization and discrimination, (b) stigmatizing and discriminatory factors that serve as barriers to accessing health care facilities by cured lepers, (c) stigmatizing and discriminatory factors that limit cured lepers’ access to employment and other social services (d) effects of stigma and discrimination against cured lepers on the wellbeing of their family members, and (e) stigmatizing and discriminatory factors that affect reintegration of cured lepers into their communities. Twenty-six cured lepers and twenty caregivers were recruited through a purposive sampling method at the Weija Leprosarium in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. In-depth interviews were conducted to collect data for the study. Findings indicated that cured lepers’ experienced negative attitudes and behaviours from people they relate or with. Similarly, caregivers also reported these negative attitudes being exhibited towards cured lepers which are most often extended to the caregivers themselves. The full presentations can be dowloaded below.

Dr. Emmanuel Asampong

Dr. Mavis Dako-Gyeke