Gender and leishmaniasis in Colombia: a redefinition of existing concepts?
Programa de Estudio y control de Enfermedades Tropicales (PECET),University of Antioquia - Medellín, Columbia
Leishmanisasis in Colombia has traditionally been seen as a health risk for adult males, as they become infected when they enter the biotopes of the vector in order to utilize the natural resources. National health statistics seem to confirm this theory. During field studie, however, the PECET observed equal proportions of men and women with active leishmaniasis, and delayed skin testing also showed equal proportions of both sexes having had contact with the parasite from early childhood. Some factors, up until now never seriously analyzed in Colubia, seem to distort the epidemiological pattern of the disease in the country, and gender-linked differentials in access to health care appear to exist. As a consequences, human suffering is not alleviated, and the socio-economical repercussions for the household are significant. The preventive measure of the Ministry of Health (MOH) systematically underestimate the magnitude of intra-and peridomicialiary transmission, and active case detection is omitted for female patients. Further research should be devoted to this phenomenon. The MOH should be encouraged to improve programmes of leishmaniasis control, especially wit regard to active case detection, training and teachin, so that the diagnosis can be made more rapidly. In the meanwhile, the MOH should retain its health workers.