I chose to investigate the area of public health because I am interested in learning more about (widespread healthcare and/or health). I have really enjoyed this class and I now believe that I would like to work in the field of public health, maybe within the epidemiology branch. I loved learning about all the work that Dr. Farmer has done in poorer and more impoverished countries like Haiti. It is inspiring and someday I would like to work in a related field.
I believe it is important to take an anthropological view alongside a clinical view when providing healthcare. This is especially true of public health because it deals with protecting the health of entire populations. The focus of its efforts deal with large numbers of people and therefore have profound and lasting effects.
Understanding the cultural beliefs and customs of the population that is being treated is a vital component to the success of the healthcare in question. A good example of the success of this collaboration of information is explained in the article “Why Anthropologists Join An Ebola Outbreak Team” from this week. Doctors that do not understand the locals’ cultural beliefs about the Ebola virus tend to railroad the locals into fearing the care that is intended to help them.
The locals in sub-Saharan Africa blame sorcery when death comes quickly and that the affected individuals have become host to demons. The cultural belief that standing too close to a person with gemo or a bad spirit makes it easy for the spirit to catch you helps to prevent the spread of the disease. As explained in the article, if clinicians understand this belief, they may be better able to isolate infected patients without breaking the trust of local people. Thus, it is vitally important that our doctors and anthropologists strive to work together to understand all aspects and cultural contexts of a disease before diving in. Creating a fear of healthcare workers among the affected population through pure ignorance will only hurt instead of help.
CDC Foundation. “What is Public Health?.” Accessed August 4, 2014. http://www.cdcfoundation.org/content/what-public-health