ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Lester CoutinhoSubscribe to Lester Coutinho

Social Production of Blame

In December 1996 three children were reported to have died and several others had fallen ill after being administered the oral polio vaccine (OPV) at the first phase of the Pulse Polio Immunisation (PPI) campaign. The authors examine the blame assigning discourses in this context. While attempting to map the varied and plural memories of the event on the registers of the media, the state and the community, an attempt is made to understand the nature of blame and accusation encountered within each of these registers.

.Normalcy and Crisis in Time of Cholera

This paper focuses on the nature of contemporary occurrences and management of cholera epidemics, and representations of the disease in various spaces: politico-administrative, scientific, clinical and the affected communities. In each of these spaces, we have examined the processes and practices of normalising a crisis produced by the epidemic potential of the disease. We also examine how experimentation and bio-medical research for developing new vaccines or new drugs, far from being perceived as instances of bio-medical power, come to be seen as an important resource by the community.

When Cure Is Better Than Prevention

This paper attempts to understand the communities' perception of protection, prevention and immunity in the specific context of measles and child health in general. The attempt here is to understand the various perceptions of the causation of measles and the quest for therapy in diverse socio-cultural contexts in India. The analysis focuses on the notion of 'preventable disease' as understood by the community, and on what constitutes prevention and immunity against measles.

Disease Control and Immunisation

Understanding the processes through which immunisation comes to be institutionalised as a routine practice in public health management provides an interesting field of sociological enquiry. A wide range of issues may be examined in this field: processes of state formation in relation to public health, the practices of science in developing countries, the role of global institutions and policy formation, the construction of the notions of consent as well as of citizenship, the relationship between the politics of the day and research institutions, and so on. These dimensions of public health need to be seriously addressed at the policy level.

Numerical Narratives and Documentary Practices

The documentary practices of target-setting, reporting, evaluation and supervision at the level of the district and the primary health centres are built around a bureaucratic organisation of information and allow for the production of 'numerical narratives' to fulfil the needs of the bureaucratic imagination of a successful public health programme wherein the record gains primacy over the event. Front-line health workers, ANMs are the focus of the analysis here, as they constantly negotiate between the health bureaucracy and the communities (local bureaucracies). This article demonstrates how programmatic goals are mediated by local contexts through these health workers, and how their perceptions and practices produce numerical narratives which meet the demands of rule and record bound bureaucratic imagination.
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