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Podoconiosis is a lymphoedema of non-infectious cause which results in long-term ill health in affected individuals. Simple, effective treatment is available in certain parts of Ethiopia, but evidence indicates that not all patients continue collecting treatment supplies from clinic sites once started. We used qualitative techniques to explore factors related to discontinued attendance at outreach clinics of a non-government organization in southern Ethiopia.
A cross-sectional qualitative study was conducted in four clinic sites through unstructured in-depth interviews, key informant interviews and focus group discussions with the involvement of 88 study subjects.
Discontinuation of clinic visits is common among podoconiosis patients. The reasons were: remoteness from the clinic sites, unrealistic expectation of ‘special’ aid, worry about increasing stigma, illness and misconceptions about treatment.
Several of these factors are remediable through community and individual information and education. Appropriate routes to deliver this information must be identified. Certain factors (such as distance to clinic sites and stigma) require substantial expansion of services or liaison with village-level government health services.