Public Health

I chose public health because I want to not just help cure people but educate them on how to live a better and healthier lifestyle. Public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole (WHO, 2014). I think it would be awesome to work for the CDC in their public health prevention service department. Although Ebola has not broken out in the United States, it very well could eventually, and educating people now on the virus is crucial to not only finding a cure to the illness but also stopping it.

It is important to take an anthropological viewpoint on such matters as public health in order to understand how and illness may have evolved. Doctors are kind of one minded when it comes to their jobs. In their heads they know they have to find out what’s wrong with their patient and cure it. Most doctors do not take into account peoples lifestyle, culture, or their beliefs when trying to cure them. This is where a medical anthropologist comes in. As we learned in class reading the Why Anthropologists Join An Ebola Outbreak Team article, “Understanding local customs — and fears — can go a long way in getting communities to cooperate with international health care workers, says  Barry Hewlett, a medical anthropologist at Washington State University.” It is crucial in understanding people’s lifestyles in order to educate them on illness preventative measures, like Ebola preventative measures. Doctors may get frustrated when their patients aren’t coming in for treatments, this could be due to stigmas in the culture or if the people are afraid of the doctors. For example in the article “The local people thought that the Europeans in control of the isolation units were in a body parts business,” he says. “Their loved ones would go into the isolation units, and they would never see them come out.” This is where medical anthropologists step in and teach the people about what the isolation units are used for and to explain that there is a high mortality rate, and this is why their loved ones are not surviving. It is a medical anthropologist’s job to relay important messages to not just the people, but the doctors as well, so people can understand what is happening , how to protect themselves, and for the doctors to provide adequate care. The more doctors and their patients understand each other the more cooperation and higher success rates. This is why it is important to have a medical anthropologist on a public health team.


World Health Organization. “Public Health.” WHO. 2014. Accessed August 4, 2014.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Desirae Jemison says:

    Hey Melinda! I enjoyed reading your reflection post this week. I also chose public health. I’m actually currently applying to some schools to get a MPH program. The reason being is that it applies directly to my personal interests as well as in my future career. I also agree with you when you stated that the reason being on why you chose public health was do you not only wanting to cure people but to educate them as well. Your right it is important for people to be educated on how to prevent diseases could possibly help to find cures to diseases as well as prevent diseases. Preventing disease and promoting health are the key elements to having a healthy life and as you stated in your post prolonging the life expectancy around the world. The examples you used to explain the reasons why we need antthropological advice along with medical practitioner guidance were very good. I agree with you that with medical anthropologist working together there would be higher success rates, because then there would be a variety of view points working to prevent diseases. I think that many of these diseases need to be treated from different directions and thought processes in order to successfully helped.

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