Ethnographic investigation of infestations with soil-transmitted helmints in Chaco-Salteno, Argentina1 1 The ethnographic fieldwork was financed by the Fundación Mundo Sano and this article by the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and the PIP 0234 Project under the direction of Dra. Andrea Szulc.

Pía Leavy About the author

Introduction

This paper describes an anthropological investigation which analyzes the environmental situation of areas with high endemicity of soil-transmitted helminths (STH) in Chaco-Salta, Argentina.

Objective

to describe and analyze the socio-environmental context and the perception of risk within the affected population.

Method

the study design was developed after a critical, non-exhaustive analysis of published epidemiological literature on parasitic infestations in Argentina. Quantitative (semi-structured questionnaires on socioeconomic aspects of a selected sample) and qualitative techniques (thorough interviews of key informants and direct observation of domestic and working activities, and healthcare centers) were integrated in the study.

Results

The working conditions and the organization of the economic agricultural activity affects land distribution, the spaces used to build houses, access to potable water and sanitary installations. The patient population organizes strategies to procure their water and negotiates health risks.

Conclusions

The ethnographic focus provides detailed information on health practices and the local risk stratification, associated with gender and age of the affected population. By addressing the social, economic, and physical dimensions of the land, it is possible to problematize the understanding of health and the environment used to explain STH.

Soil-Helminths; Ethnographic Work; Working Conditions


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