Assessment of Level of Public Knowledge about Leprosy and its Effects on Leprosy Control Programmes in Anambra and Ebonyi States of Southeast Nigeria
- Knowledge, Leprosy, Leprosy control programme, Isolation, Rehabilitation, Isolation, Social stigma, Persons affected by leprosy.
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Three related objectives informed this research paper. The first was to ascertain the level of knowledge about leprosy among residents of Anambra and Ebonyi states of Southeast Nigeria. The second was to find out if there were differentials in levels of knowledge about leprosy across socio-economic profile of residents of the two areas. The third objective interrogated how the prevailing level of knowledge in the area affected the effectiveness of leprosy control programme in the area. The study adopted a cross-sectional survey design. Quantitative data was generated through structured questionnaire schedule administered on 1116 study participants, selected through a combination of cluster and simple random sampling methods. Qualitative data were generated through Focus Group Discussion (FGD) administered to persons affected by leprosy and In-Depth Interview (IDI) of leprosy control staff and officials of both World Health Organization and the donor agency supporting leprosy control in the two states. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software was employed in analysis of data. Frequency tables, percentages, bar charts, chi-square and multiple regressions were used for presentation, analysis and in testing the stated hypotheses. The study found that knowledge level about cause, early danger signs, place of treatment and curability of leprosy was very low in the two states. Such low level of knowledge about leprosy and low literacy level among patients were among major socio-cultural factors found to affect leprosy control in the area. It was recommended that aggressive public enlightenment through public, private and local media; incentive package for health workers; prohibition of socio-cultural practices and beliefs that promote the spread of leprosy be adopted to actualise leprosy control in Anambra and Ebonyi states.