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Marring Leishmaniasis: The Stigmatization and the Impact of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000259
  • Symposium
  • Public Health And Epidemiology/Infectious Diseases
  • Infectious Diseases/Neglected Tropical Diseases
  • Medicine


pntd.0000259 1..3 Symposium Marring Leishmaniasis: The Stigmatization and the Impact of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Pakistan and Afghanistan Masoom Kassi*, Mahwash Kassi, Abaseen Khan Afghan, Rabeea Rehman, Pashtoon Murtaza Kasi* Department of Pathology, Bolan Medical College, Quetta, Pakistan Cutaneous leishmaniasis or ‘‘Kal Dana’’ (‘‘the year-long sore’’), as it is known locally, not only leaves a disfiguring scar on your face, but permanently changes your perception of your own self (Figure 1). ‘‘This is not me,’’ said the woman fromChaman, as she explained her encounter with the disease and the stigmatization associated with it. This 28-year-old woman is a resident of Chaman, a town located near the Pakistan–Afghanistan border, in the southwestern province of Balochistan. For decades, Chaman has been a hub for refugees crossing the Durand line; it also is one of the many regions where poverty and lack of health resources show their true victimization of refugees. One such case is that of this woman. She belonged to a poor family; her father, the sole breadwinner of the family, is a cattle rearer. She acquired her first lesion at the age of 12; from thereon she was socially excluded and not allowed to go to the local madrassah (an Islamic religious school). As she grew older, multiple other lesions appeared on her arms and face (the exposed parts of the body). She described this as a period of grief for her, when her parents started isolating her from the rest of the siblings to prevent further spread. No treatment was acquired, due to the afflicting poverty and lack of resources of the region. But the scar had a deeper impact on this woman, as she is still unmarried in a community where early marriages are common. She describes her fate as, ‘‘I will probably get married to a limp ormentally disabled in a year or so; at least that is what happened to all the other girls who had these marks.’’ Which Parts of the World Are Affected by Cuta

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