Reviewer nishant7483 | Review

#326 Rabies is not a disease. Faith and traditional healers talking about rabies vaccination in rural India.

Coresponding author's contact details

First name Deborah Middle name Last name Nadal
Title Dr Organization / Institution University of Glasgow Department Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine
Address 85 Hillhead St Postal / Zip code G12 8QQ Country GB
E-Mail Hidden Phone number Hidden Presenting author Yes

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Abstract title

Rabies is not a disease. Faith and traditional healers talking about rabies vaccination in rural India.

Abstract text

Rabies is the most lethal infectious disease on Earth and, when it becomes clinically diagnosable, it is incurable. Only preventive dog vaccination and post-exposure human vaccination can stop its spreading and save human and animal lives. In India, rabies kills about 21.000 people a year, more than in any other country. In rural Gujarat, a “Mother of rabies”, Hadkai Mata, is worshipped by some socially and economically marginalized communities who, in case of a dog bite, rush to her temples to seek protection from infection. Even though provisional research shows that faith/traditional medicine and biomedicine do not necessarily exclude each other in this context, the way rabies is understood at Hadkai Mata temples is hardly reconcilable with the concept of prevention through dog vaccination and immediate post-exposure human vaccination. For Hadkai Mata believers, people who suffer from abysmal caste-based discrimination, poverty and health inequality, dog bites and rabies have a morally and socially normative function that intersects only very marginally with the biomedical understanding and management of viral infection. In this socio-cultural milieu, the challenge lies in eliminating rabies deaths through vaccination but, at the same time, saving the meaning of Hadkai Mata for her believers and the role she plays in alleviating the burden they bear as a resource-limited ostracized community.

Conference topic

Panel no. 58 - Coming of Age for the Traditional Medicine System of Indigenous Populations: Is Connecting the Unconnected the Way Forward?

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Abstract Review

This abstract was reviewed on 2021-01-04 11:16h by nishant7483

Reviewer decision