Acceptability of traditional healers as directly observed treatment providers in tuberculosis control in a tribal area of Andhra Pradesh, India
Abstract:SETTING: Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh, India, where 9% of the population is tribal.
OBJECTIVE: To 1) examine traditional healers' (THs) diagnostic and treatment practices for tuberculosis (TB); 2) understand health-seeking behaviour for TB amongst tribal groups; 3) evaluate the acceptability of THs to public health workers; and 4) assess how THs can collaborate with the TB Programme.
METHODS: In-depth interviews with 120 THs, 37 exit interviews and four focus group discussions with TB patients; interviews with eight non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and 38 public health staff.
RESULTS: There were 18 THs per 1000 population. Of the 120 THs interviewed, 15 (13%) claimed to be TB specialists. Of the 72 healers aware of TB, 65 (90%) considered prolonged cough an important symptom and 53 (74%) believed that TB could be cured with allopathic drugs. THs felt collaboration was possible by directly observed treatment (DOT) providers (49, 68%), referring symptomatic individuals (54, 75%) and offering treatment for side effects (18, 25%).
CONCLUSION: Involvement of THs in the TB Control Programme may improve services as they are a major health service provider in tribal areas and are acceptable as DOT providers to patients, public health providers and NGO workers.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: 1: Andhra Pradesh State TB Control Programme, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India 2: Department of Anthropology, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India 3: Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Publication date: October 1, 2004
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