Epidemiology

I chose to investigate the intersection of epidemiology because I have always been interested in diseases and how they spread from person to person and also how they are treated. I also am debating the possibility of  eventually continuing my education to pursue a career in pathology, which is basically study of diseases. So this topic not only peaks my interest but also might be involved in my future career.

Epidemiology is defined as “the study and control of disease or injury patterns in human populations”.Taking an anthropological viewpoint in this area would be extremely beneficial to help determine causes of diseases and possible cures. An example of this from previous lectures would be the video from week 2 called “collateral damage”. This video discussed the Tuberculosis epidemic in the Marshall Islands and how that there were many other contributing factors to this outbreak other than bad genetics or poor sanitation. The video discussed how the U.S naval base located on one of the islands was causing a lot of relocation of the Marshall Island natives and causing severe crowding on the remaining islands available leading to an environment that was ideal for the spread of Tuberculosis. Another example from this weeks materials was the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea. In this case having an anthological point of view was important because they understand the local customs and fears of the people of Guinea and discovered that people were afraid to bring their sick family members to the “European doctors” because they thought these strange doctors were in the “body parts business” because of how they were conducting their work. Doctors would put patients in isolation and if they passed away they would put the body in a bag to prevent the spread of disease; all of which scared the locals. Anthropologists helped to set up and conduct the medical work in a way that would ease the concerns and promote cooperation with the Guinea natives.

Poon, Linda. “Why Anthropologists Join An Ebola Outbreak Team.” NPR. Accessed August 5, 2014.
“ExploreHealthCareers.org.” Epidemiology. Accessed August 5, 2014.
“Collateral Damage.” . http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/assets/uploads/file/UC_Transcript_6.pdf (accessed August 5, 2014)

 

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Matt Meranda says:

    I didn’t even think to reference the “Collateral Damage” video to the intersection between EPI and ANP, but you are spot-on in realizing the video’s connection to both fields of study. As a critique however, I think that the intersection between epidemiology and medical anthropology can be observed in a more basic and academic way. The two core tenants of epidemiological study involve the defining of disease and the defining of population (usually the one that harbors the disease or disease-like phenomenon of interest). As we’ve learned in previous weeks, anthropological study and insight is critically important to the delineation of “disease”. For instance in order to measure substance abuse or obesity for the purpose of public health data gathering, one must first describe what constitutes these conditions as a general category—anthropology helps us do just this. Further, the populations being observed are often large and explicitly undefined. In order to circumvent this ambiguity, anthropologists can assist epidemiological study in helping to distinguish one group of individuals as different from another a.k.a. as different “populations”. Generally speaking however, I think anthropology’s purpose in epidemiology lays in its ability to make sense of that which is different so that such things may be studies in consistent terms more familiar to those (operating under the biomedical paradigm) studying it.

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