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From the classroom to the community: teaching primary health workers.

Authors
  • Walt, G
  • Smith, P A
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Journal of tropical medicine and hygiene
Publication Date
Aug 01, 1980
Volume
83
Issue
4
Pages
161–164
Identifiers
PMID: 7411678
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Students receiving training as medical assistants at the Health Sciences Institute in Maputo, Mozambique, participated in an out of the classroom exercise which provided them with exposure to community attitudes toward illness and medical treatment. Students in the program were drawn from the urban elite, and they were, therefore, socially and educationally quite distinct from the people for whom they would be expected to provide primary health care. 43 students were out in pairs to inteview 1) patients in 2 suburban health centers concerning their beliefs about the causes of disease, and 2) residents in a home for the elderly concerning their beliefs about mental illness and how it should be treated. About half of the respondents gave magical explanations for physical diseases. They tended to give common sense explanations for common and acute disases and magical explanations for chronic illnesses and for mental illnesses. In regard to treatment, most indicated they would first seek modern medical treatment, but if this failed, they would use traditional forsm of treatment. The student's field experiences acted as an impetus for discussing many of the health care issues they will confront in their future work. They became aware of the difficulties involved in collecting and analyzing health data, and they gained an appreciation of the community's beliefs concerning illness. They developed a respect for traditional medicine and recognized the need to work in harmony with the traditional health care system. Also the discussions provided a forum for students to discuss many of the conflicts they themselves were experiencing. Many of the students were brought up in tradition oriented families. These students frequently experienced family and community pressures which were counter to the ideas they were acquiring in class.

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