Women's management of the household health environment: Responding to childhood diarrhea in the Northern Areas, Pakistan

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This paper examines mothers' management of water, sanitation, hygiene, and childhood diarrhea in a mountain community in the Northern Areas, Pakistan. It draws upon qualitative data obtained from 65 in-depth interviews and other ethnographic field methods. The analysis shows that respondents were familiar with diarrhea control interventions carried out in the study site, and associated childhood diarrhea with oral-fecal transmission routes such as poor water quality, unhygienic behaviors, contaminated food, and inadequate sanitation practices. Findings also demonstrate the continuance of long-established cultural patterns of perception and behavior with regard to childhood diarrhea and the influence of socio-economic constraints to instituting new management practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-58
Number of pages16
JournalHealth and Place
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004


I am grateful to Dr. Zeba Rasmussen of the Aga Khan University/Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan for her energy and guidance in this research effort. Thanks also to Dr. Musa Rahim and other staff members at the Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan in Gilgit for their support. This study was made possible due to the indispensable field assistance of the local research staff, including Bulbul Nissa, Shaheen Begum, Razia Sultana, and the Community Health Workers based in the project community. Financial assistance for this research is gratefully acknowledged, particularly support from the Applied Diarrhea Research Project of Harvard and the Social Science Research Council South Asia Research and Training Graduate Fellowship Program. Finally, the helpful and candid comments provided by James L. Wescoat, Jr. and the two anonymous reviewers are greatly appreciated.

FundersFunder number
Social Science Research Council


    • Childhood diarrhea
    • Household health environment
    • Northern Pakistan
    • Women


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