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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Determinants of primary caregivers' health seeking behaviour in a Tanzanian peri-urban town Aragon, Melissa


This paper examines the principal determinants dictating the health-seeking behaviour of primary caregivers in a peri-urban town in Tanzania. I argue that the typical epidemiological model, utilized by most health intervention programs, and largely based on a person’s identifying characteristics such as migration status, religion, education and tribal affiliation, are insufficient tools for predicting a primary caregiver’s health seeking behaviour when children are afflicted with homa (fever), most often attributed to malaria. Rather, one’s sphere of interaction, defined by one’s shared values attributed with status as a primary caregiver, participation in the informal economy and interspersed residential patterns typical of the peri-urban environment are the principal factors determining caregivers’ strategies. Based on two months of fieldwork consisting of participant observation and semistructured interviews in a town located on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this study uses Bourdieu’ s concepts of strategy and habitus (1977) to account for the health seeking behaviour of primary caregivers. Ultimately, based on this research, I conclude that first, social interaction surpasses static categories in defining primary caregivers’ health seeking strategies; second, in order for health intervention programs to be successful, they must be based upon a community’s specific dynamics; third, social networks forged through social interactions offer a formidable means of established communication via which health messages can be broadcast, and health intervention programs can be distributed.

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