Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices relating to Leprosy among Public Health Care Providers in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Introduction: Leprosy remains a serious public health problem due to its ability to cause disability. The prevention of leprosy ultimately lies in the early diagnosis and treatment of the individuals having leprosy, thereby preventing further transmission. In Sri Lanka, 46% of new cases identified in year 2013, were late presentations and
this caused to 7-8% patients to present with deformities. It has been observed that lack of awareness among health staff has contributed to this late diagnosis. Objective: To describe knowledge, attitudes and practices towards leprosy amongst public health care workers in Colombo Municipal Council area, Sri Lanka. Material and Methods: A descriptive cross sectional survey was carried out in Colombo Municipal Council area by distributing self administered questionnaire among all public healthcare workers (n=178) from January to February, 2015. Results: Hundred and fifty three participants (86%) identified ‘hypo pigmented patches’, 64 (36%) identified ‘skin nodules’ and 36 (20%) identified ‘thickened nerves’ as suspicious sings of leprosy. More than one fifth of participants believed leprosy is easily transmitted by touch. Sixty one (34.3%) health care workers were
scared of leprosy and 77 (43.3%) didn’t want to reveal to a friend that if a family member gets leprosy. Another 49 (27.5%) didn’t want to share materials with a patient. A significant minority (22.5%) believed that patients should be kept apart from others. Conclusion: Including leprosy in continuous medical education and refresher training is crucial in early diagnosis of leprosy as certain gap in knowledge was identified. An emphasis needs to be placed on education regarding transmission and low rate of infectivity of leprosy as study revealed certain misconceptions and prejudices still exist even among healthcare workers.
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