Deeply embedded in local social, cultural, and religious settings, traditional healing is part of dog bite and rabies management in many rabies endemic countries. Faith healing, which usually encompasses a more holistic approach to health including physical, mental and social dimensions, is rare in the context of rabies. In Gujarat, Western India, the Hindu goddess Hadkai Mata is worshiped by low-caste communities as the Mother of Rabies in the event of a dog bite to a person or their livestock. This belief might influence people's attitudes and behaviors toward rabies prevention but has never been investigated. Through 31 in-depth interviews with healers and staff of Hadkai Mata temples, this paper explores the system of knowledge around dog and human rabies that is built and shared in these places of worship and healing. Qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed looking for convergences and divergences with the recently launched National Action Plan for dog-mediated Rabies Elimination. Results suggest that while the etiology of human rabies as a social illness is usually explained as the goddess's wish to correct misbehaving people and restore positive interpersonal relations, there is some appreciation for the biological processes of infection that lead to rabies as a physical disease. Hadkai Mata is believed to cure rabies if her patients undergo the necessary process of moral growth. Although conventional post-exposure prophylaxis is not opposed per se, it is often delayed by patients who seek traditional treatment first. Some reluctance was expressed toward mass dog vaccination because it is seen as an interference in how the goddess controls dogs, by enraging them—hence infecting them with rabies—and sending them to bite wrongdoers. Addressing these cultural perceptions is likely to be critical in achieving effective control of dog rabies in this region. The study highlights the value of multidisciplinary approaches in the control and elimination of rabies, as well as other zoonoses. This includes the importance of understanding different culturally- and religiously- mediated ways in which humans relate to animals; and looking for points of convergence and mutual understanding, upon which context-tailored, linguistically-accurate, locally acceptable, feasible and effective strategies can be designed.

Where Rabies Is Not a Disease. Bridging Healthworlds to Improve Mutual Understanding and Prevention of Rabies

Nadal D.
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Deeply embedded in local social, cultural, and religious settings, traditional healing is part of dog bite and rabies management in many rabies endemic countries. Faith healing, which usually encompasses a more holistic approach to health including physical, mental and social dimensions, is rare in the context of rabies. In Gujarat, Western India, the Hindu goddess Hadkai Mata is worshiped by low-caste communities as the Mother of Rabies in the event of a dog bite to a person or their livestock. This belief might influence people's attitudes and behaviors toward rabies prevention but has never been investigated. Through 31 in-depth interviews with healers and staff of Hadkai Mata temples, this paper explores the system of knowledge around dog and human rabies that is built and shared in these places of worship and healing. Qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed looking for convergences and divergences with the recently launched National Action Plan for dog-mediated Rabies Elimination. Results suggest that while the etiology of human rabies as a social illness is usually explained as the goddess's wish to correct misbehaving people and restore positive interpersonal relations, there is some appreciation for the biological processes of infection that lead to rabies as a physical disease. Hadkai Mata is believed to cure rabies if her patients undergo the necessary process of moral growth. Although conventional post-exposure prophylaxis is not opposed per se, it is often delayed by patients who seek traditional treatment first. Some reluctance was expressed toward mass dog vaccination because it is seen as an interference in how the goddess controls dogs, by enraging them—hence infecting them with rabies—and sending them to bite wrongdoers. Addressing these cultural perceptions is likely to be critical in achieving effective control of dog rabies in this region. The study highlights the value of multidisciplinary approaches in the control and elimination of rabies, as well as other zoonoses. This includes the importance of understanding different culturally- and religiously- mediated ways in which humans relate to animals; and looking for points of convergence and mutual understanding, upon which context-tailored, linguistically-accurate, locally acceptable, feasible and effective strategies can be designed.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5028666
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