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Malaria, Danger, and Risk Perceptions among the Yao in Rural Malawi

As mentioned in our April 25th blog post in honor of  World Malaria Day, AAA recognized this important day with a special virtual issue of Medical Anthropology Quarterly. This special edition re-released articles which demonstrate ways that ethnography and human behavior studies help to change care management and public health policy.

Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, particularly those living in lower-income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO calculates that every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria. By joining the global movement to roll back these staggering statics on malaria, anthropologists serve as catalyst around the world to research the medical and cultural impacts of this disease and share their findings to help count malaria out.

Over the coming weeks, each article will be featured here on the AAA blog. Here is the second of seven highlighted articles:

Malaria, Danger, and Risk Perceptions among the Yao in Rural Malawi
Annika Launiala and Marja-Liisa Honkasalo
Medical Anthropology Quarterly, September 2010

Findings from a study designed to discover how local understanding of malaria among Yao in Malawi relate to pregnancy risk definitions reveal that malaria in pregnancy is not perceived as a major risk. Using extended ethnographic field research and multiple methods, we argue a shift from narrow single-disease approaches to malaria during pregnancy is required and document women’s concerns about exposure to multiple vulnerabilities during pregnancy, including witchcraft, extramarital affairs, and multiple dangerous illnesses.

Click here to read the article.

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