Major Projects

Malaria in the Social Context: Study in Western India

Sponsored by the Department for International Development, UK in 1996-2000, Lancy Lobo while at CSS, Surat, undertook a project, Ethnography of Malaria in Surat District. The study addressed the role of social and cultural factors in health and disease in urban and rural areas of Surat district. It focussed on malaria in a culturally and socio-economically stratified population in a few ecologically differing rural settings in the district. If inquired into the economic factors affecting people's behaviour in the various settings.WaterAid However, the bulk of the work is concerned with folk beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions affecting various aspects of the incidence and treatment of malaria. It has provided detailed description and classification of people's perceptions of a number of diseases, of fevers (including malarial fevers), of mosquitoes, and of herbs used to treat these diseases. This data is likely to be useful to social and medical scientists, to health practitioners and policy makers, in the field of malaria eradication, and more broadly to those working in public health and medicine.

WaterAidTo explore variations in the district, the study was focused on three rural sites: (1) A tribal village (Khogalgam) in the eastern hilly zone, (2) A mixed tribal and non-tribal village (Sathvav) in the central plains, and (3) A non-tribal village (Karanj) in the western zone. The output of the intensive study was validated in a larger number of villages of these three zones of the district for reliability, range, and relevance of data. Multiple techniques were employed in gathering data: Participant observation, Focus Group Discussion (FGD), Participatory Research Appraisal (PRA), Case studies, and survey method.

WaterAidPerceptions were gathered on (i) The link between farming and malaria, (ii) population movement and malaria transmission, and (iii) respondents of better economic status considered malaria as opposed to those of low economic status.




The major findings were as follows:

WaterAid1.No single strategy can resolve the malaria problem. It has to be tackled with a combination of control measures tailored to the local setting.

2. For the success of community-based programmes of malaria control, it is necessary to know as a first step the community's socio-cultural background, based on perceptions about mosquitoes, disease transmission, breeding conditions of mosquitoes, and how best the communities can participate in the control efforts.

3. Economic development programmes such as dam construction, irrigation, or 'green revolution' technologies favour malaria. Any development project that alters pre-existing relationships between humans and their environment should be evaluated within an ecological framework.

This study was conducted by Lancy Lobo assisted mainly by Purendra Prasad and Babasaheb Kazi at CSS, Surat and resulted in the book, Malaria in the Social Context: A Study in Western India, Delhi: Routledge, 2010.