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Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Behaviors Related to Health among the Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador and the Potential Application of Telehealth

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/6831

Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Behaviors Related to Health among the Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador and the Potential Application of Telehealth

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Title: Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Behaviors Related to Health among the Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador and the Potential Application of Telehealth
Author: Liu, Ming-Jai; Mendoza, Erika; Henry, Kevin; Alverson, Dale
Subject(s): Telehealth
Abstract: There is much concern of health effects related to gas drilling in the provinces of Ecuador. Recent research has shown a possible correlation between oil drilling and a multitude of health problems (1). Cancer rates in particular may be elevated in populations exposed to the drilling pollutants; while intriguing, this research remains inconclusive in large partly because of difficulties in diagnosing cancer among other health problems in rural populations, but also due to local people’s perception of exposure. It has been determined that previous explorations between petroleum and cancer had not been approached directly in terms of taking indigenous peoples knowledge, attitude, behavior, and beliefs (KABB) into account, which is vital in shaping their identity and entity as a whole, particularly in the intersections of medical, ecological-environmental, and cultural-historical trajectories. Upon further investigation in the current literature and discussion with the local experts in the fields of anthropology and epidemiology, it is identified that the perception of illness and its implication in terms of KABB must be assessed and taken under consideration before the true prevalence of cancer in this region can be measured to its true extent. This research will therefore aim to lay the groundwork by conducting interviews utilizing surveys developed to assess the KABB of local people through healthcare providers and indigenous healers. Targeted interviewees will be from the following key figures of the local healthcare system: Physicians, nurses, promotores, shamans (Indigenous healers), Quito’s epidemiologists, public health officials, oncologists. The KABB of the indigenous healers will be compared to those of western-trained healthcare providers and scientists. Targeted locales will be major cities such as Quito and rural areas in the Oriente. We will also enlist the help of students at Universidad Tecnologica Equinoccial (UTE), Equinoccial Technological University in Quito using Telehealth Video-Telephone-Conferencing (VTC) and Internet to share project progress, discuss issues, and to share information. The result will be valuable for future endeavor to further investigate the link between petroleum exploration and its carcinogenic effects on local population, as well as to establish the true prevalence of cancer due to petroleum exploration. This research also could help prevent a major health crisis, similar to the once-unknown deleterious effects of tobacco use along with its far-reaching medical-legal aftermath of unprecedented cases of litigations. It is hoped that this research will serve as a forerunner in qualitative research utilizing KABB model to explore area of complicated human-environment-diseases interactions; and thereby to shed light into the ambiguous relationship between cultural beliefs, petroleum exploration, and cancer in Ecuador. The study was aimed at laying the groundwork for future focused research to address critical health issues among the people affected. Results of the surveys showed that the concerns related to petroleum drilling and its effects on the environment and health is less tantamount in the urban areas compared to the rural communities near the drilling areas. Independent of the petroleum drilling activities, we found that the major health problems are related to poverty, malnutrition, unclean water, and a variety of potentially preventable infections. Solutions include improved education, prevention, better nutrition, sanitized water and local economic development. We plan to apply Telehealth technologies to create a collaborative knowledge network and address these issues more efficiently.
Date: 2008-07-30
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/6831

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