Advocate program for healthy traditional houses, Ume Kbubu, in a Timor community

preserving traditional behavior and promoting improved health outcomes

Rachmalina Prasodjo, D. Anwar Musadad, Salut Muhidin*, Jerico Pardosi, Maria Silalahi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Families in the Timor society of Indonesia have customarily used traditional houses, called Ume Kbubu, for confinement practices of a newborn baby and the mother during the first 40 days after birth. The practice, known as Sei (smoke) tradition, involves retaining heat, which is believed to foster healing, inside the house by continuously burning a wood burning stove. Exacerbated by inadequate ventilation in the traditional house, this practice results in poor indoor air quality and negatively affects the health of the mother and baby. Preliminary findings from a baseline study conducted in 2009 identified high levels of indoor air pollution in Ume Kbubu where mothers practiced the Sei tradition. Many respondents expressed that they suffered from respiratory health problems during the practice. On the basis of those results, a follow-up study was conducted in 2011 to develop and test a communication-focused behavior change intervention that would foster conversion of traditional houses into healthy Ume Kbubu and promote changes to traditional practices for better health outcomes. The study suggests that redesigning an Ume Kbubu house could promote better air quality inside the house and involving the community in the health intervention program led to positive changes in the Sei practice (i.e., decreasing the Sei period's length from 40 days to 4 days on average and attempting to reduce household air pollution). The study resulted in several recommendations in relation to sustained transformation to improve health behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2015

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