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Title: Gender differences in attitudes and practices within households in rural areas of the North East of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Author: Paluku Sabuni, Louis
ISNI:       0000 0001 3544 3117
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis presents and discusses the findings of a study conducted in the rural areas of the North East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Access to modern health care is poor in the DRC. The generalised pauperisation and political turmoil have worsened socio-economic conditions. People are using other resources, such as household self-treatment, which are frequently disregarded by health professionals, policy makers and researchers. Medical and traditional anthropological approaches recommended in the literature synthesised, health education of the mothers to correct their misconception in health seeking behaviour. These views represent at least two fundamental errors. The first being that household self-treatment is not performed by women only and the second is that denying experience (knowledge) of local people is to distort cultural reality. The study considered a different perspective and draws on critical, flexible and emancipatory approach to understand household members' perspectives of the household self-treatment. My particular interest was to investigate the difference between men, women, boys and girls using comprehensive frameworks which consider the real context of self-treatment as both gendered and epistemological issues. Compared to previous studies, the uniqueness of this thesis is that it brings together cultural behaviour (Kleinman model) and gender frameworks for analysing gender and self-treatment in a dangerous field work context using both flexible and multi-disciplinary approaches. The study has also generated different recommendations from classical health education, based on the findings. Findings reveal that the household is the place where illnesses and disabilities are perceived and given names, causes allocated and the treatment sought. Analysis through the six steps of hypothetical behaviours in Kleinman model for self-treatment revealed also that there are differences in gender and generation. Household gender roles are culturally allocated and women carry out most of the household self-treatment. Thus, women form a strong network of 'creators' and 'transmitters' of illness names. Multiple causes of illnesses are perceived and these influence how an illness is treated. Both gender and generation influence sanctioning particular sick roles and decisions to undertake specific treatment. Although changes are happening in household health care practices, inequity due to gender roles is worsening as women carry out their roles without resources in their poor settings. Therefore, health district managers (NGOs, church or government) need to recognise that household members use both modern and indigenous medicines within the home in the management of illness. They should integrate household management of illnesses in the district health system. Practical and equitable measures towards gender should be taken into account when integrating this, e.g. gender power, etc.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral