With regard to Berman, Peter; Kendall, Carl; & Bhattacharyya, Karabi, (1994). The household production of health: integrating social science perspectives on micro-level health determinants....

With regard to Berman, Peter; Kendall, Carl; & Bhattacharyya, Karabi, (1994). The household production of health: integrating social science perspectives on micro-level health determinants. Social Science & Medicine, 38(2): 205-215.

What is the main point of the article? Is this surprising?

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of this article is that while new technology can help improve public health and medicine in developing countries, social and economic changes in households can also play a vital role in improving public health in these areas. In order to help health outcomes, new technologies must be used correctly and consistently in households in developing countries. The model used in this article employs different fields in social science to examine how households use their resources and direct their behaviors to learn about and use technologies to restore or promote the health of their members. This model puts households, not hospitals or clinics, at the center of the delivery of health-promoting and health-restoring technologies. Households exist in a larger environment that includes community-wide economic and social conditions such as access to clean water, services, and transportation, and the household is also affected by the education, income, and social status of its members.

Households are involved in health behaviors such as the provision of child care, feeding infants and children, sanitation, pre- and post-natal maternal care, prevention of disease, and other behaviors. Effective health-producing technology use depends on understanding how households "produce," as the authors refer to this process, the health of their members.

The article examines the use of anthropological approaches to understand how mothers treat diarrhea in children and whether or not they breastfeed their children (which has been shown to be an effective way to prevent diarrhea). Acute diarrhea is the major cause of mortality in children under 4 worldwide and a major source of child malnutrition. The article examines how complex seemingly simple technologies such as Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) are. Mothers' beliefs about how to implement these technologies, such as their idea that these treatments must be administered outside the household, affect the delivery of these technologies. It is surprising, as this article suggests, that implementing fairly low-technology health interventions can be so complex because of parents' pre-existing beliefs and health behaviors.