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Knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Cultural obstacles thwart disease prevention in Mozambique.

Published Article
AIDS weekly plus
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1997
PMID: 12293294


A measles epidemic began in Mozambique in August 1997; many children died, most of whom were never immunized. According to an October 29, 1997, article released by the Afrika News Network, an average of 30 children suffering from measles and diarrhea are brought daily to a local clinic with a capacity for only 20 patients/day. The parents of the children often blame witchcraft for the disease. Gabriel Wacheve, head of the clinic, said the clinic was unable to meet residential needs. 60% of the adults visiting the clinic are treated for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to Wacheve, STD prevalence is high because the population is young and because polygamy is a common practice. STDs are found primarily among women aged 12-35 years. According to the article, this is due to the polygamy and the increasing number of unmarried women who often become involved with promiscuous men. Women marry at ages 12-14 years; they do not know how to care for their own or their children's health. They often become pregnant immediately after giving birth. According to Wacheve, they do not follow the family planning advice they receive at the clinic. According to the Afrika News Network article, the problem lies in a culture where a woman's worth is determined by the number of children she produces; when she no longer produces offspring, the husband takes a new wife.

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