Concepts of health and therapeutic options among Congolese refugees in London
This thesis is about the perception and experience of health, illness and health care among Congolese refugees. It discusses the role of education, with a particular emphasis on schools, in promoting health in the Congolese refugee community, alongside the role of the Home Office, the health care sector and the Congolese refugee community itself. The thesis identifies three therapeutic systems used by Congolese refugees. These are the Congolese traditional therapeutic systems, the Christo-spiritual therapeutic systems and biomedicine. Analyses of the data demonstrate that in the quest for health, Congolese refugees develop six approaches or options. This is due to their perceptions of illness/disease or predicament, their experiences in the British health care sector as well as their concepts of risk. Moreover, analyses of the fieldwork data establish a correspondence between the conditions in exile and the Congolese refugees' health. Thus, to promote Congolese refugees' health in London, the thesis argues that their culture, their socio-economic and political conditions as well as their experiences in British health care sector must be considered. This, however, cannot be the concern of a single group. It requires the intervention of schools, the Home Office, the health care sector, and the Congolese refugees themselves. The thesis ends by evaluating its main arguments in the light of Congolese refugees' therapeutic options as well as its methodological stances.