In order to carry out an efficacious training programme for community health workers (CHWs) in a rural village of Senegal, we considered it useful to conduct a study on the conceptions of health, sickness and treatment of the village community. The study was conducted by four nurses and a physician, with the collaboration of an anthropologist, using the research method of ethno-nursing, with the aid of semi-structured interviews. People in the study areas have integrated conceptions deriving from biomedicine into their local knowledge and practice. Two interpretations are attributed to the concept of health: ‘‘individualistic’’ and those that perceive health as an effect of harmony at a social level; some describe the human body using elements of anatomy and physiology, while others understand it as a means of relating between environment and society; sickness is placed in relation to biological agents, but also to the world of the supernatural. The treatment of sickness is entrusted in part to modern medicine and in part to traditional healers. The training programme for the CHWs should take into account the conceptions of health, sickness and treatment of the village population. The traditional healers could be involved in a more active collaboration.
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