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September 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1983 ; 17(17): 1249-55.

Traditional medicine in Ecuador: the structure of the non-formal health systems.

Pedersen D, Coloma C.

This paper summarizes the main findings of a four village study, carried out during 1979 and 1980 in the highlands and lowlands of northwest Ecuador concerning Western and traditional medicine practices and their relationship with the health status of the people. The methodology used was based on a census and cross-sectional survey on morbidity, mortality and healthy-seeking behaviour; on structured an open-ended interviews with healers, traditional midwives and local medical personnel; and on case studies and follow-ups of individual cases of illness, as defined by the population. Morbidity and mortality data show that the health situation is similar or worse in those villages with local medical services than in those with remote access to hospital facilities. The reported consultation and follow-up of actual cases revealed the existence of complex social networks for disease interpretation and management which combine Western and traditional medicine practices, religious and lay family healing procedures.

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