Accepted paper:

Why do African leaders keep their illness statuses so secretive? Frazer, Hierarchical Ordering of Bodies and Disease Disclosure

Authors:

Deborah Atobrah (University of Ghana)
Benjamin Kwansa (University of Ghana)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the relationship between the cultures of illness disclosure among presidents in Africa and normative traditional rules on the body of the traditional ruler.

Paper long abstract:

As chronic non- communicable diseases increase in Africa, understanding cultures of disclosure has become important because of their implications on the psychological and physiological wellbeing of the patient, stigma alleviation, and for general health promotion. This paper explores the relationship between the cultures of illness disclosure among presidents in Africa and normative traditional rules on the body of the traditional ruler. We propose that traditional exclusionary norms that pertain to the ruler's body redefine constructions of contagion and disability in ways that transcend biomedical constructions, and include non-communicable diseases. We argue that relics of such traditional norms, the hierarchical ordering of bodies, and the traditional symbolism of the ruler's body are still entrenched in modern African societies, and have been extended to recent exclusionary debates on some African leaders. The findings suggest that such traditional rudiments remarkably influence disease disclosure among leaders in Africa.

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The arts of dying and reviving institutions of health and well-being