I chose to further explore the area of applied medical anthropology called epidemiology. MY reasoning for choosing this particular area was because I have heard of epidemiology but was not confident on exactly what an epidemiologist does. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the job description of an epidemiologist is, “to conduct epidemiological investigations used in preventing and controlling specific communicable and chronic diseases, injuries, and other health conditions and in planning health programs.” Epidemiology is a branch of public health or a section under the broad category. Epidemiology is more of a personal interest than pertaining to my future career. However, epidemiology does in a way relate to my future career. I am working towards becoming a nurse and may be working with diseases that affect the public health. I may even work side by side with an epidemiologist if there was a certain disease or public outbreak that my patients may have. An epidemiologist could come into a hospital and analyze patient’s symptoms and the experience they are having with a certain illness.

To those who are epidemiologists, anthropology is a very important way to look at epidemiology. In this class we have learned about how different approaches of anthropology. The applied anthological approach explains how anthropology looks into how people really think and feel in certain cultures. For example, if an epidemiologist is looking into how there is an outbreak of malaria in certain African villages and comes up with the solution to provide mosquito nets for the beds of the people in the village. An anthropologist may look at how the mosquito nets are working for people if they are working even at all. Anthropologists look past aid and simple solutions to the soul root of the problem. If studying the culture done by an anthropologist solves the root of the problem then an epidemiologist can use that and spread the findings to other places in need.


CDC. “Sample Position Description for Tier 1: Entry-Level Epidemiologist.”


This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. charet22 says:

    You’ve made several key points that a lot of people overlook and your incorporation of the anthological approach is spot-on. As opposed to limiting the anthropologist to only working with an epidemiologist, what if they had worked alongside an engineer and chemist? This is more thinking outside the box that the post prompt had originally keyed in to, the four together would be able to get more done. In the malaria example, the video talked quite a bit about patient-noncompliance as the nets were hot and viewed as poisonous. Of course an epidemiologist is needed to find the root cause of any problem, they view the world differently than traditional doctors and usually zero-in on those causes with a higher degree of accuracy. Then anthropologist is of course needed to observe the people and convey their culture, beliefs, ideals and behavior patterns to the epidemiologist to see where, when and why patient noncompliance may be taking place. The epidemiologist can then lecture the locals further but that does not stop the nets from being hot and carrying a stigma. This is where science and technology needed to be brought together to maybe find alternate means to keep mosquitoes and thus malaria in check. Although patient comfort is not the primary goal of the treatment, finding more creative, comfortable and efficient ways to combat disease would make patient compliance skyrocket and facilitate the eradication of disease.

    “Dr. Farmer”s Remedy.” 60 minutes video, 12:29. May 5, 2008 http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/dr-farmers-remedy/.

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