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December 2019

Soc Sci Med. 1992 Jun; 34(11): 1227-35.

Perceived morbidity and health behaviour in a Dogon community.

Coppo P, Pisani L, Keita A.

Traditional Medicine Programme, Centro Sperimentale Educazione Sanitaria, Perugio, Italy.

The episodes of morbidity over a 6 month period were recorded at 179 households comprising 1715 people living in the district of Bandiagara (Mali). This population was subdivided into groups according to their distances from the nearest district health centre and educational services, their scholarization, socio-economic and hygiene levels. The subjects interviewed were asked to report illnesses using their vernacular names, the type of therapy selected, the decision process, the time-lapse between onset and remedial action, the treatment undergone and its effect. Subsequent analysis of the data recorded indicates that the frequency of morbidity episodes is inversely proportionate to the household's level of hygiene. It also appears that factors such as the household's hygienic, socio-economic and educational levels along with the type of illness and its duration, are more decisive when resorting (or not resorting) to treatment than is the proximity factor. This seems particularly true in the case of traditional medicine, chosen even where cosmopolitan resources are available and by people with a relatively high socio-economic, hygienic and educational level. In the specific situation under study this paper indicates those areas for further study with a view to improving public health education.

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