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Neglected Patients with a Neglected Disease? A Qualitative Study of Lymphatic Filariasis
23 Oct 2007
Maria Victoria Valero
Citation: Perera M, Whitehead M, Molyneux D, Weerasooriya M, Gunatilleke G (2007) Neglected Patients with a Neglected Disease? A Qualitative Study of Lymphatic Filariasis. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases Nov 21;1(2):e128. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000128
This paper reports qualitative research on socio-cultural factors associated with filariasis. The authors discuss possible interventions and public policies to alleviate the social and economic impact associated with this neglected disease. The study was conducted among 60 participants from three villages in Matara District, Sri Lanka. Primary information was obtained through in-depth interviews concerning experiences and consequences of the disease.
The results provide strong evidence that the disease is associated with poor living conditions. Also, as a result of low incomes, the infected population is not able to reduce their exposure or to get prompt and early diagnosis. Their illness affects also the family situation, due to disability and low household income.
From the public health point of view, filariasis represents a big challenge for health systems and the affected population. Firstly, health institutions often exclude the planning, monitoring and evaluation of these kinds of pathologies, due to human and financial constraints. Secondly, this disease causes a long lasting disability and there are limited models for preventive action. Thirdly, patients are highly stigmatized; hence access to services is difficult within public health services and paying for services is often not possible owing to poverty. These factors and their interplay contribute strongly to the persistence of filariasis and other neglected diseases with similar risk factors and patterns (1).
To understand tropical disease problems and their control, combined methodologies are needed. Quantitative methods offer the possibility of characterizing the magnitude, frequency and distribution of diseases using large sample sizes. However, qualitative methods allow the collection of more detailed information at the individual and household level, particularly as regards the patterns of vulnerability and resilience linked to the social and cultural conditions that determine tropical disease problems. Consequently, combining the approaches leads to an effective amalgamation that allows defining and tailoring preventive and curative control approaches to the respective epidemiological settings.
1. Molyneux DH (2004). Neglected diseases but unrecognised successes-challenges and opportunities for infectious diseases control. Lancet 364: 380–383.
© 2007 Perera et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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