Public Health and Medical Anthropology

Within the past year I have had increased exposure to the epidemiological and public health perspectives in regards to medicine. I did not have much knowledge prior to taking these classes and really sparked my interest so I decided to further my investigation on the topic. I had always thought medical school was the path for me but I now am seriously considering pursuing a master’s in public health and working for a governmental agency. For these reasons I chose the public health and medical anthropology intersection.

Like we have seen in the previous weeks the United States healthcare system differs from majority of the world in that it is a business. We have learned that much of the health disparities in this country is due to socioeconomic and factors that stem off of that. Health insurance companies are selling a product and with that comes an increased interest in profit obviously which may is not the best mentality when it comes to people’s health.  I believe that using an anthropological approach to this problem would be the best way for the United States to come up with a more cost effective system that results in a better overall health of the population. I think that shaping the system we already have would be the best approach because people would be more open to it. Anthropologist Susan Starr Sered and Dr. Fernadopulle travelled to Texas, Mississippi, Idaho, Illinois, and Massachusetts to discover learn about those who are uninsured in that area. They found many people who are using different methods to survive. One couples conditions go untreated, one woman is borrowing medication from her sister and other pay for what they can (1). Employment is the most common way American gets their health insurance and loosing that employment is a double hit. If Anthropologists like Susan could take this information they have learned from their studies and try to implement a change in delivery of healthcare when hard working people get laid off I believe that could make a huge impact on society’s health.

(1) Sered, Susan Starr and Rushika Ferandopulle. “Sick Out of Luck: the Uninsured in America” Accessed August 9, 2013.

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