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Ann Trop Paediatr. 1988 Jun; 8(2): 49-60.

Traditional belief and practice among the Pokot people of Kenya with particular reference to mother and child health: 1. The Pokot people and their environment.

O'Dempsey TJ.

Department of Tropical Paediatrics, Schools of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, U.K.

In order to provide effective and sympathetic health care in a community, it is essential to have a detailed understanding of the culture. This is particularly true when one is concerned with the health of mothers and their children. The Pokot people of Kenya have developed a social structure and cultural practices which aim to optimize the chance of survival of the community in an often difficult and hostile environment. When examined in detail, some of these practices are seen to be beneficial, while others are associated with significant morbidity and mortality, especially in the area of mother and child health. In recent times, Pokot society has been in a phase of transition, influenced by new opportunities of educational, economic and social interaction, particularly since the completion of a tarmac road through the district in 1983. While many of these changes are undoubtedly beneficial to the community, they have been associated with a disintegration of traditional Pokot society and accompanied by changing patterns of existing diseases, as well as the opportunity for introduction and dissemination of diseases which were previously absent from or rarely encountered in the area.

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