The social burden of podoconiosis in Wolayita zone, Southern Nation Nationality People’s Region, Ethiopia

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Addis Abeba Universty


Wollaita zone is found in the Southern Nation Nationalities People's Region. It has an estimated population of about 1.5 million out of which 92.2% lives in the rural area mainly on farming. A study was conducted in the zone on podoconiosis patients to investigate the social burden of the disease. In depth interviews were used to gain information on the social aspect of the disease. Additional quantitative data was collected on 60 families to see if there is any familial occurrence contributing to the social burden. Data analysis was performed in the field and after completion of data collection. Podoconiosis patients suffer from social burdens apart from the physical burden through out their life due to the societal values attached to the disease. Patients are stigmatized and isolated in the society. The negative attitudes towards their illness is expressed during marriage arrangements, employment, schooling and social disagreements. The disabilities of podoconiosis patients supplemented by the negative social attitude make patients less competent and productive. Podoconiosis has familial occurrence making few families targets for the stigma and discrimination found with in the society. Additionally the lack of knowledge of the cause, prevention and treatment of the disease among health professionals has added to the existing burden of the society. The course of stigma that is seen on podoconiosis patients could apply to other stigmatized diseases. Recommendation is made to raise the awareness of health professionals and the community so that the disease can be prevented as well as eradicated in Welayita and other Ethiopian societies.



The social burden of podoconiosis in Wolayita zone