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Palgrave Macmillan

Health Communication and Disease in Africa

Beliefs, Traditions and Stigma

  • Book
  • © 2021


  • Addresses different health issues across the African continent, bringing together multidisciplinary authors from across Africa and the rest of the world
  • Highlights and critically examines the social cultural and economic factors in public understanding of health and illness in Africa
  • Provides recommendations about how to overcome the identified obstacles and improve uptake of health information
  • Uniquely advocates for the combination of traditional communication strategies with western or mainstream media approaches

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About this book

This book is a collection of essays from across Africa which highlight the roles of beliefs and traditions in health behaviour. Chapters address mental health, risk perception, stigma, reproductive health, religion and health. The book also examines conceptual approaches in health communication and community development, both western and indigenous. 

Specific topics include Alzheimer’s, HIV and stigma; perception of risk from obesity, HIV prevention and preeclampsia; doctor-patient relationship and health beliefs of birth attendants; culture and mental health access and social media effects on mental health; the complementary use of contemporary and indigenous communication strategies and the accommodation of science by religious leaders during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The book, which starts by examining global inequalities in health, proposes an African approach informed by problematisation as theorised by Foucault and Freire, to unpack habits and social problems. It ends by asking the question: “Is science enough” and making a strong case for health enabling environments alongside science communication.

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Table of contents (17 chapters)

  1. Introduction

  2. Conceptual Approaches

  3. Risk Perception and Health

  4. Mental Health

  5. Communities, Western and Indigenous Communication


This book will be of great value to health practitioners and policy-makers, researchersand students. Chapters showcase a range of theoretical approaches to health
communication skilfully linked by the editors’ Introductory and Concluding chapters.
Together they provide the basis for a theoretical toolkit for the development of
actionable understandings of the processes through which abstract scientific
knowledge is communicated to real people in real contexts – and the social and
psychological factors that mediate the success of a communication.
It presents a compelling vision of an approach that is deeply rooted in African
— Catherine Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Social Psychology, Department
of Psychological and Behavioural Science, London School of Economics and
Political Science, UK

Editors and Affiliations

  • South African Research Chair in Science Communication, Centre for Research on Evaluation Science and Technology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

    Bankole Falade

  • Wits Reproductive Health Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Hilbrow, South Africa

    Mercy Murire

About the editors

Bankole Falade is a research fellow with the South African Research Chair in Science Communication, Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Visiting Fellow, Department of Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom. His research interests are in science and health communication.


Mercy Murire is a Senior researcher at the Wits Reproductive Health Institute (WRHI) and a researcher at University of Witwatersrand with the school of clinical medicine. Her research interests are in psychology and public health focusing on the intersections between sexual and reproductive health (SRH), mental health, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV prevention, HIV stigma, contraceptives, and gender-based violence in adolescent girls and young women.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Health Communication and Disease in Africa

  • Book Subtitle: Beliefs, Traditions and Stigma

  • Editors: Bankole Falade, Mercy Murire

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2021

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-981-16-2545-9Published: 28 September 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-981-16-2548-0Published: 29 September 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-16-2546-6Published: 27 September 2021

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XV, 401

  • Number of Illustrations: 2 b/w illustrations, 8 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Sociology, general, Medical Sociology, Media and Communication

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