Thesis on Patterns and Consequences of Customary Health Practices

A Sociological Study on Khumi Indigenous People in Bandarban District

All societies have medical systems that provide a theory of disease etiology, methods for the diagnosis of illness and prescription and practices of both curative and preventive therapies. The process by which the indigenous people traditionally maintain their health care is not commendable in the present technological age. Most of the indigenous people do not know the uniqueness of modern health facilities. So they remain in the customary health practices which are increasing their illness and death rate time to time. These practices are the responsible for the high illness and death but they never understand affect of the customary health practices. In reality, the indigenous people live in close proximity with nature and they are habituated to the customary health practices. Illiteracy, income, occupation, religious beliefs, traditional health beliefs and inadequate modern health facilities are influencing them to sustain the customary health practices. This research monograph will discuss patterns and consequences of customary health practices on Khumi indigenous people, a small indigenous group at Bandarban district of Bangladesh and try to find out the implicit causes of customary health practices and its ultimate consequences.

This monograph is about the customary health behavior of khumi indigenous people and consequences of that practice. In order to explain the customary health behavior of the concerned people or respondents, the research monograph will follow a health related socio-psychological model called Health Belief Model as the theoretical background. This monograph or research work would focus on the socio-psychological and other related factors affecting the health behavior of the khumi indigenous people in practicing customary medicinal tools for recovery. This is the condition of this research work. Socio economic status and health variables have been found to have significant relationship in studies of population in different societies. The studies of indigenous people in Australia and USA have shown that their health related behavior varies largely from the major population groups. It has also been seeing that health behavior is largely influenced by the socio-economic status of the people. This study looks at the socio-economic status and its relation with health status and illness of indigenous population in Bangladesh mainly the khumi indigenous people in Betchori, Ruma in Bandarban district of Chittagong. We try to find out the health behavior of khumi people, their perception, patterns of behavior and consequences of customary health behavior. 

Customary health practice is a major problem among the indigenous people for the being healthy and sound health owner. Among the 45 indigenous communities in Bangladesh, most of the people more or less use the customary medicine (Monte Dewan, 2007). In the word of novel laureate Amartya Sen, health, like education, is among the basic capabilities that gives value to human life(Sen 1999). It contributes to both social and economic property. Health in itself is of great value as it enables people to enjoy their potential as human being. Therefore, it is important to protect health through healthcare, besides other means such as socio-economic development. Better health translates into greater and more equitably distributed wealth by building human and social capital and increasing productivity (Bloom et al 2004, WHO 2001), though the concept of good health is relative. In the healthcare context, ethics require that a principle of ‘access according to need’ and ‘equal access for equal need’ is followed (Mooney 1992 Cited in Gillstrom 2001). Access being defined as the ease with which healthcare is obtained (Agency for healthcare policy and Research 1995 cited in Lawthers et al 2003) or to use healthcare (Thiede 2005). However, the consistently inequitable nature of health systems limits the access quality healthcare to the poor who need them most (Gwathin etal.2004). Health systems are frequently ineffective in reaching the poor, generate less benefit for the poor than the rich, and impose regressive cost burdens on poor households (Fabricant et al. 1999). Neglect, abuse and marginalization by the healthcare systems are part of their everyday experience (WHO 2002). Experience suggests that poor people will be effectively excluded unless services are ‘geographically accessible, of decent quality, fairly financed and responsive ‘(Narayan et al. 2000).