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September 2019

Soc Sci Med. 1995 Jul; 41(1): 77-86.

Cross cultural communication of tetanus vaccinations in Bolivia.

Bastien JW.

Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Arlington, USA.

Although neonatal tetanus (NNT) is common in developing countries, many people are unaware of its causes and prevention. A study analyzed cultural beliefs and practices to understand how people in three cultural areas in Bolivia (Aymara, Quechua and Tupi-Guarani) think about NNT and tetanus toxoid (TT) immunizations. In all three cultural areas NNT is perceived within a magical and biological framework that involves alternative healing systems and healers. Tetanus immunization programs could be more successful if tetanus were a clearly marked target for the Aymara, Quechua and Tupi-Guarani people, and vaccinators were sensitive to their cultural perceptions. Health workers need to communicate cross-culturally the relationship of TT vaccinations to how members of these ethnic groups perceive NNT.

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