Global Health and Medical Anthropology

I chose this intersection of applied medical anthropology because I find it kind of interesting.  As far as future careers go, I want to be a doctor. There are programs like Global Health Service Corps physicians go to Africa, or anywhere really, and provide primary care for people the there that are dealing with various illnesses.  Specifically, Texas Children’s Global Health Service Corps is trying to set up programs dealing with conditions like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, malnutrition, and sickle cell anemia that heavily impact child morbidity and mortality all over the world.  This is something I’d consider signing up for, for a few years.

Taking an anthropological view of things is obviously important in this area.  This past spring break I went on a global medical brigade trip to Honduras.  We went into a community for a few days with a few doctors and dentists and a lot medications and vitamins and tried to provide whatever help we could with the resources we had.  One of the major things they really needed though was education.  Some of the people did not understand why their toddler’s teeth were all rotting out, and it was because the kids were drinking 7-UP and Coke.  We could explain the cause to them, and we taught the kids how to brush their teeth, but in the end that might not be enough because they do not have a lot of money, and soda is very cheap.  Anthropologists would know these people better and might be able to figure out some sort of solution.  A different example is from the video on YouTube that was provided for this week.  The guy talks about someone who taught people in a community to boil water to help kill parasites and the people in the community seemed to accept it, but really the entire time they knew that they were not actually going to do it because you cannot boil water without killing the spirit of the earth that is in the water.  So the NGOs ,or whoever else, knows what needs to be done technically to help these communities, but you have to have the anthropologist’s point of view to try and figure out how to actually go about helping these different communities with different cultures and beliefs.

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