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Free Content Acceptability of traditional healers as directly observed treatment providers in tuberculosis control in a tribal area of Andhra Pradesh, India

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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.

Keywords: community participation; health seeking behaviour; traditional healers; tribal; tuberculosis

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: 2004-10-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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