Abstract

The societies of Chókwè’s district in the south of Mozambique are characterized by a diversity of ethnomedicines, including biomedicine, traditional medicine and spiritual healing. Focusing on malaria control activities, knowledge and practices related to malaria’s etiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment were analyzed, according to the consultation of different health care providers. The analysis of this phenomenon was based on an interpretive and critical perspective, integrating economic, social, political, organizational and cultural factors, which are often marginalized in the understanding of illnesses. Based on a multidisciplinary and qualitative approach, it was concluded that diseases’ social construction emerges not only from the psychosocial experience of patients and social groups, but also from the social dynamics, especially socio-cultural, ideological and political relationships as well as experiences, symbolisms, flows of information and multiple actors that constitutes the complex architecture of the National Health System in Mozambique. Refusing the “epistemic monoculture”, the traditional health care providers’ oral histories (traditional healers and pastors) and their discourses about identity illustrate the current conflicts and tensions as well as matching attempts to achieve therapeutic cooperation and complementarity. Just as the mosquito Anopheles resists and adapts to environmental changes, also the knowledge, therapeutic practices and social relations relating to health and disease are constantly changing. In both cases, we are unaware of subsequent arrangements and configurations.