A study on community-based approaches to reduce leprosy stigma in India.
There is a global awareness that reduction of leprosy stigma is not at par with the technological developments and the resulting cognitive changes pertaining to leprosy, which can be attributed to lack of active community participation in the programmes. With a major aim of identifying the best methods using active participation of the society, the Leprosy Mission in India initiated a multi-state community-based interventional trial of leprosy stigma reduction in 2 similar rural blocks located beyond 25 km. from the three hospitals, from 3 states, at Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh, Purulia in West Bengal and Champa in Chhattisgarh of India during 2005. A baseline survey was done which confirmed a high level of leprosy stigma. A stigma reduction organizing committee (SROC) in each village, thus a total of 60 SROCs from 3 states @ 10 from each block were formed. One trained social worker appointed by the project as community organizer in each block acted as a facilitator for all the stigma reduction activities taken up by the committees. The outcome of the project shows, the SROCs' interventions are well accepted by the communities. Education and counseling through SROC members in local circumstances are very much feasible and effective.