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East Afr Med J. 1995 Jul;72(7):449-53.

Social and psychological aspects of onchocercal skin disease in Nebbi district, Uganda.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.


Onchocerciasis affects 7% of Uganda's population and 1.5 million more people are at risk of infection with Onchocerca volvulus, the nematode that causes the disease. This paper reports the results of part of a multi-centre study whose objective was to determine the prevalence of onchocercal skin disease and its associated psychosocial importance in Uganda. The study employed a standardised clinical dermatological survey method along with the use of structured questionnaires, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Out of a total of 993 persons examined to determine the prevalence of onchocercal skin lesions 253 persons were interviewed to determine the psychosocial importance of the disease. The results indicate that onchocercal skin disease is associated with a variety of psychosocial, physical and economic effects. The disease also leads to stigmatisation of affected persons and their families. It is suggested that dermatological effects of onchocerciasis should be recognised as an important cause of morbidity in Uganda.

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