Effects of traditional religious belief system of the Igbo group on the effectiveness of leprosy control programmes in Anambra and Ebonyi states of southeast Nigeria
The objective of this study is to verify the effects of religious belief system on the effectiveness of leprosy control programmes in Anambra and Ebonyi states of Southeast Nigeria. The complementary objective is to ascertain the dominant mode of disposition to leprosy among residents of the two states and to account for the role of religious belief system in shaping such disposition to leprosy among residents. The design for the study was cross-sectional survey method. Three instruments, questionnaire, focused group discussion (FGD) and in-depth interview (IDI) were combined for optimum results. There were four categories of respondents, namely, the general public, persons affected by leprosy, leprosy control staff and officials of World Health Organization (WHO) and the donor agency operating in the two states. All residents of the two states constituted the population of study but a sample size of 1116 adult /members, adequate for applicable statistical techniques were study participants on who a uniform set of structured questionnaire schedule were administered to generate quantitative data. They were selected through combination of cluster and random sampling methods. Qualitative data via FGD were generated from purposively selected persons affected by leprosy from State Leprosy Treatment Registers. Also, purposively selected Leprosy Control Staff and officials of WHO and the donor agency operating in the two states were respondents to IDI sessions. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software was employed in data analysis. Frequency tables, bar charts, chi-square and multiple regressions were used for analysis and hypothesis testing. It was found that religious belief system was a major socio-cultural factor affecting the effectiveness of leprosy control in the area. Other minor factors were lack of community participation, poverty, poor political commitment/ funding, low literacy level of both patients and the public. It was recommended that aggressive public enlightenment through public, private and local media and prohibition of socio-cultural practices that promote the spread of leprosy be adopted to enhance effectiveness of leprosy control in Anambra and Ebonyi states.
Key words: leprosy, leprosy control, religious belief system, stigmatization, disposition to leprosy