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The Butajira Rural Health Project in Ethiopia: mothers' perceptions and practices in the care of children with acute respiratory infections



The Butajira Rural Health Project in Ethiopia: mothers' perceptions and practices in the care of children with acute respiratory infections



International Journal of Health Sciences 5(3): 99-103



In Ethiopia, a social anthropologist, a pediatrician, and a nurse project supervisor interviewed 15 mothers living in Butajira district to learn about their current perceptions and practices in the care of children with acute respiratory infections (ARIs) in order to plan effective intervention programs for the Butajira Rural Health Project. All the mothers were familiar with measles and identified fever and rash as its major symptoms. Since they tended to believe that modern medication keeps the rash from appearing, which they thought necessary for recovery, many mothers thought that a child with measles should not go to a health facility. Mothers considered lentil and a cereal soup as necessary to bring out the rash. The only white-colored food allowed during measles is breast milk. Mothers would not allow a child with measles to be taken out of his or her house. All the mothers were familiar with whooping cough and its key feature--a chronic cough. None of the mothers knew that vaccination would prevent whooping cough. An acceptable treatment for whooping cough was use of leaves of Lippia adoensis and garlic or milk of a black donkey. The mothers considered infection of the uvula and/or the tonsils to be natural since all children develop these throat infections. Treatment consists of a traditional healer cutting the uvula with a wire or scratching the tonsils with the fingers. Herbs are applied to the resultant wounds. Only two mothers knew about pneumonia. They had taken their children to a health center, where they were told that their children had it. Even after the interviewers had thoroughly explained the symptoms of pneumonia, 10 mothers did not recognize it as an illness entity. Mothers did not know about the symptoms of fast breathing or chest indrawing. Only a few mothers would take their child with these symptoms to a health center. Traditional treatments would be used (e.g., massaging the chest with butter). Regardless of ARI, most mothers would take their child to the health center only as a last resort. Any interventions developed based on these findings should at least target harmful practices (e.g., cutting the uvula with nonsterile instruments).

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Accession: 047554479

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PMID: 12320383


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