Womenís Perceptions of Health and Illness in the Context of National Struggle in the Old City of Nablus, Palestine, Monographs in Reproductive Health No. 4, the Population Council, 2003.

This essay discusses the perceptions on health and illness of women in the Old City of Nablus, Palestine, during the first Palestinian Intifada (Uprising), which began in 1988 and ended in the early 1990ís. The study was carried out between 1991-1992, a period when the Intifada dominated the lives and everyday routines of the Palestinian population. The basic demographic and socio-economic data and women's narratives presented here where conceptualized and expressed in terms of women's life stages or life cycles that have been shaped by exceptional political circumstances, circumstances that have had dramatic effects on the economic and cultural aspects of life in this basically poor urban community. The narratives of the interviewed women present complex and multifaceted views on health and illness as a continuum, influenced by a mix of external factors - political and environmental - as well as internal influences, such as childbearing, aging, ability to cope. Health is portrayed as a valuable asset that is a combination of the physical, the psychological and the political. Health is seen as divinely governed, yet with space for human intervention, and vulnerable to the ill effects of the evil eye, hassad. Health and illness are ultimately visualized in terms of the ability to cope and to manage stressful situations and difficult life events.
Author(s): Muna Muhammad Odeh , Rita Giacaman  
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