Week 6: Activity Post Prompt

Title: Pick a global health problem in a specific area to discuss (HIV in Malawi, sexual health in India, infant mortality in China, FGM in the Sudan, etc.)

Body: (300 words)

  • Provide background information on the global health problem from your title – what are its origins? What are the cultural, social, political, etc. factors that facilitate it? What are people, governments, NGOs, etc. trying to do to address it?
  • Identify an article by an anthropologist working in this area and describe their work (make sure to include a link to the article).

Comment: (200 words)

  • Pick a post that addresses a different global health issue and read the linked article.
  • Drawing from the course materials, identify the theory and methods the anthropologist used to address this global health problem.
  • Comment on how you think applying anthropology contributed to a better understanding of this global health problem? Use specific examples.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Naomi Fleischmann says:

    When anthropologist John R. Knox researched the prevalence of HIV in Swaziland, he had to take the ethnomedical approach to medical anthropology because of Swaziland’s strong beliefs in their healers. Knox had to work with the healers in Swaziland because they were the ones that would have the biggest influence on the possible HIV intervention plan. The people of Swaziland look to their healers for medical advice and were not likely to listen to an outsider’s point of view unless their healers agreed with the outsider. Knox realized that his plan to come to Swaziland and almost immediately lower the spreading rate of HIV was not going to happen. He did realize though that he had something valuable to the healers: money. Swaziland is not a financially sound area, and therefore Knox was able to help them in that specific area. Knox also realized that the healers were not fond of the idea of combining their healing methods with biomedicine because in the past they believed that biomedicine had outweighed their traditional healing methods. I believe that had an anthropologist not gone to Swaziland, the people of the world would not be able to understand why HIV is so prevalent there and why no one is doing anything to stop it from spreading. Thanks to Knox’s new understanding of their culture one realizes that even though it would normally make sense to start the Swazi people on medication, it would be pointless to send the medication to Swaziland because it simply will not be used due to their cultural beliefs. Perhaps one day Swaziland will come to terms with their strong need for medication, but for now they are not too keen on the idea of help from anyone but their healers.

  2. Naomi Fleischmann says:

    I am so sorry about the above misplacement of my comment! I will try to figure out how to delete it, but in the meantime I will post it to its proper place.

  3. christopher reed says:

    The anthropologists in this article utilized the applied anthropology methods. There was a specific problem for a specific client (the WHO). These anthropologists worked in macro level structures (hospital system) in tandem with micro-level experiences (patient/family comforts etc). Though the article did not go into great detail on how this problem was studied, qualitative methods were certainly used. The anthropologists could tell that the locals were bothered by many of the practices of the western doctors including how they would dispose of the contaminated bodies. Simply zipping them up and quickly removing them was seen as callous and even possibly corrupt. A closer understanding of this culture and their view of this disease and western medicine gave the health professionals a stronger relationship with the people they were trying to serve.
    One of the biggest issues facing health professionals with the latest outbreak of ebola is that many victims simply don’t seek help. This could be for a number of reasons, but often it is the same distrust of westerners which caused problems in the 2000 outbreak. I have even heard that some Africans are afraid to be treated by westerners because some believe they will be experimented on. The fact that this outbreak happens to be taking place in more urban areas makes the situation all the more deadly.

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