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October 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1988 ; 27(1): 53-67.

Mothers' concepts of childhood diarrhea in rural Pakistan: what ORT program planners should know.

Mull JD, Mull DS.

Department of Family Medicine, University of California, Irvine 92717.

Diarrhea is the leading cause of infant and child death in Pakistan. Appropriately, the development of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) programs has become a major priority of the Pakistan Ministry of Health and of international funding agencies. Paradoxically, however, there is virtually no published anthropological literature on diarrhea-related traditional health beliefs and practices among the rural and illiterate people who make up 90% of the nation's population. The study reported on here focuses on these matters and suggests important implications for the multimillion-dollar ORT programs currently being launched. Mothers' ethnomedical models of diarrheal disease and concepts of appropriate treatment are discussed, as are practical problems relating to the effective implementation of ORT in such a setting. The results underline the need for anthropological studies as an adjunct to health interventions involving behavioral modification.

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