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Cahiers d'études et de recherches francophones / Santé

Social anthropological approach to tuberculosis in Mopti (Mali): popular representations and use of treatment Volume 19, issue 2, avril-mai-juin 2009

  • Author(s): A Berthe, F Maguiraga, L Traoré, E Mugisho, M Drabo, AK Traoré, B Dujardin, P Huygens , Sciences de l’homme pour l’aide à la décision, à l’action et à l’évaluation des interventions (SHADEI) centre Muraz 01 BP 390 Bobo-Dioulasso 01 Burkina Faso, Centre national d’appui à la lutte contre la maladie (CNAM) Mali, ESP-ULB campus Erasme route de Lennik 808 1170 Bruxelles Belgique, Institut de recherche en sciences de la santé (IRSS) 03 BP 7192 Ouagadougou 03 Burkina Faso
  • Key words: étiology, Mali, nosology, therapeutical recourse, socioanthropology, tuberculosis
  • Page(s) : 87-93
  • DOI : 10.1684/san.2009.0150
  • Published in: 2009

In Mali, there were 4508 new cases of tuberculosis in 2003, and 5222 in 2006. Tuberculosis (TB) is thus an important public health problem, decreasing the physical, financial and social capital of individuals, their families and society. Because responses to TB have not yet applied a sufficiently integrated approach that can improve patients’ access to quality care, this FORESA project advocates a patient-centered approach. Before any intervention, FORESA thus sought to analyse the situation of TB in Mali and responses to it. The study aims to analyse the discourse about and popular representations of TB (its forms, its signs), the situations in which people are exposed to it or transmit it, and popular practices related to its prevention and the experience of having it. This qualitative, descriptive and analytical study includes a literature review, in-depth interviews with opinion leaders, community health workers and TB patients, focus groups, and the observations of practices. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analysed. Subjects provided informed consent to participation. This study showed that: • the terms for TB in local languages (Bambara, Dogon and Fulfuldé) include white cough, big cough, and long cough; • These communities differentiate between 2 main forms of cough (simple and wet); • TB is perceived as a transmissible disease, a disease of contact with a contaminated body or objects; • TB is seen as a serious, contagious, hereditary, shameful disease that may result from the transgression of social norms; • The prevention of TB consists of avoiding people who have the disease or transmitting factors; • Therapeutic remedies, in order, are self-medication, the use of traditional healers, and finally visits to health centres; • The population wants more information about TB and be involved in the fight against it. This study shows the many points of convergence about TB nosology, etiology and therapy between the Mopti population and other groups in Mali (including the Mande, Senoufo and Soso), between the population of Mali and some ethnic groups in Burkina Faso (such as the Dioula, Bobo, Tiéfo Vigué), and between the population of Mali and, Burkina Faso and others in Africa (Gambia, Nigeria, South Africa, etc.). There is also a difference between popular knowledge about TB and biomedical knowledge. The population does not know that TB is transmitted mainly, even exclusively, by nasal droplets or that patients are no longer contagious after two weeks of treatment. The widespread dissemination of this information may have a positive effect, reducing stigmatization and improving access to treatment. Mali must strengthen the skills of all participants in the fight against tuberculosis, to strengthen their framework and to monitor and evaluate their activities.