Accepted Paper:

Medical pluralism, poverty, or limited access?: Factors that shape hospital use in a developing context  


Tarryn Phillips (La Trobe University)

Paper short abstract:

On the Fijian island of Ovalau, health outcomes are relatively poor and use of the hospital is limited and often problematically delayed. This paper examines the weight accorded to ethno-medical beliefs, poverty and limited accessibility as variables that shape treatment-seeking decisions on the island. 

Paper long abstract:

On the regional  Fijian island of Ovalau, health problems are understood and treated through a range of medical paradigms: Indigenous Fijian traditions, Christian faith-healing, Indo-Fijian  Ayurveda,  Western bio-medical science and public health interventions.  Yet health outcomes remain relatively poor. Many preventable health conditions are caused - and treatable health conditions are exacerbated - by limited or delayed use of the hospital on the island. This paper draws on preliminary ethnographic data to examine the factors that shape and constrain hospital use in a medically pluralistic landscape. In particular, I examine the weight accorded to ethno-medical beliefs, attitudes towards hospitals, poverty and limited transporting options as variables that shape treatment-seeking decisons in this context of uncertainty and medical pluralism.

Panel Med04
Managing medical uncertainty