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[People's perception of diseases: an exploratory study of popular beliefs, attitudes and practices regarding immunizable diseases]
Dhaka, Bangladesh, Worldview International Foundation, 1987 Nov.  p.Researchers interviewed 57 mothers and 27 heads of family in predominantly rural areas about 135km from the capital city of Dhaka, Bangladesh to learn about their perception of diseases. They also talked with 3 traditional healers and 8 influential people in the different locales, e.g., teachers and imams. They learned that each vaccine preventable disease has at least 1 local name rooted in popular beliefs, e.g., all local names for poliomyelitis are associated with an ominous wind. Generally, the local people believe that witches or evil spirits cause all the vaccine preventable diseases. These entities prefer attacking babies, but also are known to afflict women. A preventive measure practiced includes pregnant women never leaving the house in the evening, at noon, or at midnight since these are the times when they are most exposed to evil spirits. There exist 2 traditional healers--fakirs and kabiraj. Fakirs use mystic words with religious chants and perform various healing rituals. The kabiraj sometimes use healing rituals, but also prescribe indigenous medicines. This research provides some useful insights into WHO's Expanded Programme on Immunization in developing communication strategies which build on what people already know. For example, since the local people believe that evil spirits or witches attack the newborn immediately after birth may provide an incentive for early immunization. Since preventing illness and death in newborns is a goal of both modern and traditional medicine, it is likely that the local people are not so concerned with the real cause of illness and will accept any practice that keeps their infant healthy and that fits into their beliefs and perceptions.