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Journal of Tropical Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 507034, 10 pages
Review Article

The Meaning of Leprosy and Everyday Experiences: An Exploration in Cirebon, Indonesia

1Athena Institute, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2Centre for Disability Studies, Selo Sumarjan Research Center (SSRC), Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Indonesia, Gedung H, 6th Floor, Cubicle E, Kampus FISIP UI, Depok 16424, Indonesia
3Center for Health Research, Faculty of Public Health, Universitas Indonesia, Gedung G, R. 211, Fakultas Kesehatan Masyarakat, Kampus UI, Depok 16424, Indonesia

Received 24 September 2012; Revised 13 January 2013; Accepted 3 February 2013

Academic Editor: Bhushan Kumar

Copyright © 2013 Ruth M. H. Peters et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


It is imperative to consider the meaning of leprosy and everyday experiences of people affected by leprosy and key persons in the community if one aims to make leprosy services more effective, which appears necessary in Indonesia given the large numbers of new cases detected annually. However, little is written in the international literature about the experiences of people currently being treated for leprosy, those cured, or other key informants. This paper analyses the narratives of the people by drawing upon in-depth interviews with 53 participants and 20 focus groups discussions. The participants were purposively selected. We provide insights into the experiences of people and the meaning they give to leprosy and highlight aspect of aetiology, spirituality, religion, darkening of the skin, and sorcery. We also examine experiences of seeking care and focused on the impact of the disease in particular on the elderly and children. In conclusion, the continued need for implementation of leprosy services in Indonesia is very evident. The diversities in people’s experiences with leprosy indicate a demand for responsive leprosy services to serve the diverse needs, including services for those formally declared to be “cured.”