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Blog Examines Importance Of Community Involvement In Health Behavior Interventions

Discussing how in some “parts of Africa young girls are allowed to spend days in labor to deliver a baby,” increasing their risk of injury and death, Gary Darmstadt, head of the Family Health Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wendy Prosser, a research analyst with the division, ask in a post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “[W]hat happens when culture and accepted behaviors are actually harmful; when science and culture collide?” They cite other examples of how programs based on scientific evidence can reduce risks or prevent disease, and add, “Changing behaviors is not an easy task, and changing cultures is even more difficult and can be very sensitive. … We can successfully develop, introduce and scale up an intervention only when we understand the desires, motivations, and choices of the user — essentially, only when we consider the culture of a community” (9/6).