Understanding gender and its intersection with social stratifiers on prevention and care-seeking behavior of lymphatic filariasis in Nepal


Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a debilitating and painful neglected tropical disease and is one of the leading causes of permanent disability. In many countries, the intersection of gender with various social stratifiers has influenced exposure to LF and ultimately impacted the disease burden and its elimination. This study aimed to explore the influence of gender and its intersection with other social stratifiers for the prevention and care-seeking behavior of LF in Nepal.

This study employed qualitative research methods: in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) for data collection in Bardiya, Nepal. A total of 22 IDIs (11 male, 11 female) and 2 FGDs (1 male and 1 female) were conducted with the community people between January and March 2020. The participants were purposively selected to represent different social stratifiers including age, sex, ethnicity, occupation. The data collected were analyzed using a thematic framework approach with use of intersectional gender analysis matrix.

The study findings revealed that men spend more time outside their household compared to women while fulfilling their roles and responsibilities, largely determined by societal expectations and gender norms. This resulted in limited access to preventive health services for men, as they often missed the annual mass drug administration program in their community and limited access to preventive methods. Further traditional occupations, specific to a particular ethnicity, influenced the vulnerability to LF for certain ethnic groups. The ability to prevent exposure varied among individuals. Although women made decisions regarding the use of protective methods, it was influenced by patriarchal and gender norms. They often felt a responsibility to take care and priorities males and other family members when resources are limited. The intersectionality of gender with other social stratifiers such as marital status, ethnicity, and geographical areas influenced individual’s ability to access information related to LF and care seeking.

Overall, the findings emphasized how access to resources, division of work, norms and values and decision- making power alone and its interaction with various social stratifiers shaped peoples’ vulnerability to disease, ability to prevent exposure and response to illness.
Keywords Gender, Intersectionality, Lymphatic filariasis, Social stratifier, Intersectional gender analysis, Gender norm, Disease vulnerability

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