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Asian Man (The) - An International Journal
Year : 2013, Volume : 7, Issue : 1and2
First page : ( 160) Last page : ( 168)
Print ISSN : 0974-6366. Online ISSN : 0975-6884.
Article DOI : 10.5958/j.0975-6884.7.1X.022

Health and Illness Behaviour: Observations in a Tribal Community

Gaikwad John S.

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Pune, Pune, Maharastra. Email: johnsgaikwad@hotmail.com

Online published on 11 December, 2013.


This paper aims to analyse the health and illness behaviour of a forest-dwelling tribal community. It is based on empirical data obtained from the Pawra tribal community. Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in seven villages from Akrani Mahal Tahsil in District Nandurbar, in the state of Maharashtra. These villages were selected because they are predominantly inhabited by the Pawra tribal community. Abrupt changes in an individual's health condition/onset of an ailment/sudden weakness are usually attributed to external forces. Depending on the symptoms of the ailments and the knowledge regarding capabilities of the known/available ‘budwa’ (traditional healer), the patient/relatives decide as to which ‘budwu’ (traditional healer) is to be consulted. Ailments attributed to certain aetiological factors evoke a specific response. It also affects the mental state of the patient. A few members of the Pawra community, who resort to modern medicine, generally prefer to consult a private physician. The reluctance for availing services from a primary health centre/cottage hospital is deep rooted in their undesirable experiences at these institutions. However, the people have mixed reactions about their comparison between government and private physicians. Some physicians at Dhadgaon indicated that the Pawra are negligent about health. Data indicate that the extensive ethno-medical system prevalent among the Pawra would continue to be ‘an useful supportive system’ for many more years to come.



Health and Illness, Culture and behaviour, Medical care.


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