Microbe Literacy Intervention
CERP in partnership with the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), the University of Chicago and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) designed an intervention to improve health and hygiene practices among illiterate women in Pakistan. According to recent literature in public health, low-cost standard hygiene and sanitation messages that promote hand washing, safe food handling and safe water storage are not widely adopted. One reason people may not respond to (or have low “willingness to pay” for) hygiene promotion is that messages are not salient. Conventional recommendations encourage infection prevention by appealing to the germ theory of disease. This conception of illness does not resonate well with traditional “hot/cold” beliefs about the causes of illness that prevail in many traditional, culturally conservative communities. In Pakistan, 70 percent of the population practices some form of traditional medicine, which does not incorporate microscopic agents. Hygiene recommendations may not resonate for people who have never conceived of microscopic life, or who do not believe that microscopic pathogens cause illness.
Dr. Daniel Bennett, University of Chicago
Dr. Syed Ali Asjad Naqvi, Vienna University of Economics and Business
Dr. Wolf-Peter Schmidt, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine