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BRAC-ICDDR,B Joint Research Project Working Paper Series
Cultural Construction of Health: The Cases of the BRAC Village Organization and ICDDR,B
Working Paper No. 14

Monirul I. Khan, Abbas Bhuiya, Mushtaque Chowdhury
March - 1996

The role of culture in health care behaviour is one of the basic themes this paper pursues. Other studies report that traditional culture is still a dominant factor in health and demographic behaviour in rural Bangladesh. However, changes in traditional culture and its implications for health behaviour are not studied well. This paper examines the role of development interventions to facilitate such change in addition to verification of different aspects of traditional health behaviour, knowledge and attitude to illness and disease.

The empirical context of this paper is rural Matlab which gives a unique opportunity to investigate how health intervention by ICDDR,B and the socioeconomic intervention that of the BRAC brought about changes in the intertwined context of culture and traditional health behaviour. This paper elaborates this complex relation in the context of selected diseases and illnesses in rural Bangladesh.

What follows is divided into eight brief sections containing objectives, methodology, literature overview, intervention programmes, perception, causes and treatment of illness and disease before the conclusion is drawn.

The specific objectives of this study are to examine:

i. what the rural poor know about the modern explanation of disease (such as, disease is a pathological condition of human organisms) and their notions of illness;
ii. what they know about the scientific causes of diseases and their indigenous understanding;
iii. how socio-cultural elements of society determine their health behaviour; iv. finally, how far the interventions by BRAC and ICDDR,B have brought about changes in the traditional health behaviour of the rural poor and influence the socio-cultural elements in it.

 
 
 

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