[Early diagnosis of Hansen disease: study of the health services in Recife (Pernambuco), Brazil].

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Title[Early diagnosis of Hansen disease: study of the health services in Recife (Pernambuco), Brazil].
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsFeliciano KV, Kovacs MH, Alzate A
Abbrev. JournalRev. Panam. Salud Publica
JournalRevista panamericana de salud publica = Pan American journal of public health
Year of Publication1998
Publication Languagepor
KeywordsBrazil, Health Services Accessibility, Humans, Leprosy, Quality of Health Care

This paper presents the results of a descriptive study carried out in the city of Recife, state of Pernambuco, Brazil, between March and September 1994. The study aimed at health services available for performing early diagnosis of Hansen's disease with emphasis on accessibility and quality of the services provided. The sample consisted of 32 health clinics visited for diagnostic purposes by 183 patients with Hansen's disease. Information on organizational infrastructures was collected by means of interviews with health clinic managers. Information regarding routine procedures in the 32 clinics was collected by observation, with special attention given to archival and inspection activities. A total of 1,998 patients were interviewed to determine accessibility of services. Time spent in consultation with the physician was determined for 1,000 patients who were seen by 123 physicians at the clinics during the interviews. To explore physicians' attitude and knowledge regarding Hansen's disease, 133 were randomly selected from a list of names. The following factors were identified as hindering early diagnosis of Hansen's disease: the large number of people seeking service who could not be seen by a physician on the same day; the long time elapsed between appointment scheduling and the actual visit (for those not seen on the same day); the long wait for the consultation; the brevity of the consultation; the low availability of trained personnel; the low proportion of physicians who examined all body surfaces; difficulties in the clinical recognition of the disease; and physicians not prepared to make a differential diagnosis. These obstacles can precipitate the physical deterioration of Hansen's disease patients and stimulate the persistence of transmissibility; therefore, they need to be overcome if Hansen's disease is to be eliminated.

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Shelf markFELICIANO1998