Stigmatisation and discrimination: Experiences of people affected by leprosy in Southern Ghana.
Introduction: Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease, poses a serious public health concern due to its impact on the wellbeing of affected people. This study, which was set in Ghana, explored stigmatisation and discrimination experiences of people affected by leprosy resident at the Weija Leprosarium in Accra.
Methodology: Using a qualitative research methodology, 26 participants were purposively selected and in-depth interviews conducted. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and categorised based on the objectives of the study.
Findings: The findings revealed that participants experienced stigma and discrimination from their families, friends, healthcare providers and community members. Evidence showed that whereas some participants anticipated stigma and discrimination from prospective employers, others internalised the negative beliefs associated with the disease and gave up searching for jobs. Moreover, the findings indicated that participants were not willing to reintegrate into their communities since they considered the Leprosarium a safe haven.
Conclusion: Based on the findings of the study, we conclude that people affected by leprosy included in this study experienced stigmatisation and discrimination. We therefore suggest that efforts aimed at reducing and in the long run curing the stigma of leprosy must be contextualised and scaled up. Also, implications are discussed for social work and public health practices.