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BELIEFS ABOUT CHILDREN'S ILLNESS
ANNE PEBLEY a1, ELENA HURTADO a2andNOREEN GOLDMAN a3 a1 Population Center, RAND, PO Box 2138, 1700 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138, USA a2 Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá (INCAP), Guatemala City, Guatemala a3 Office of Population Research, Princeton University, 21 Prospect Avenue, Princeton NJ 08540, USA
Beliefs about child illness were investigated using semi-structured interviews with mothers and providers in four rural Guatemalan communities. The two most common forms of child illness in Guatemala – diarrhoea and respiratory disease – were focused upon. These illnesses are particularly difficult to prevent and treat, especially with the rudimentary health services available in rural areas of developing countries. Comparisons with other ethnographic studies in Guatemala suggest that some traditional models of illness causation identified in these earlier investigations are relatively unimportant in the communities studied here. This finding, in conjunction with frequent responses related to hygiene and water, suggests that traditional explanations may be co-existing with biomedical views of illness causation to a greater degree today than in the past.