global health

As you can probably discern from the title of this post, I am interested in global health. I am interested in public health, epidemiology, and community health as well, but that all fits into my primary interest. After I get my undergraduate degree, I hope to be working within that sector — access to resources and treatment is still a huge issue, so I want to do my part in rectifying that. If I was someone who was not knowledgeable about the anthropological approaches or had not had anthropological training, I think that would result in many inadequacies. This class, as well anthropological teachings in general (to some degree, of course), do a lot to dispel the notion that biomedicine is the best kind of medicine. Working in global health does involve working with different communities and different cultures so having this superiority complex of sorts wrt biomedicine would not be conducive at all. In addition to that, what we have learned in this class is also to be cognizant of how other cultures treat illness. Just because we treat X illness a certain way in the U.S., does not mean it will go over as effectively in another community/culture. In the video “’Medical Anthropology’ – Tribal Jazzman Scholar, Episode #26”, Tribal Jazzman brings up an important example. In a Peruvian village, an organization began to provide IUDs to women to help with family planning, etc. Unfortunately, the people that ran the program didn’t take into account the fact that in that culture, women who were menstruating couldn’t handle food. The IUD would actually increase the duration and severity of the menstrual bleeding ergo women were being secluded for a longer period of time which negatively impacted the health of the village. As you can see based off of this example, understanding the cultural contexts of the communities that you are helping is incredibly important as that allows you to discern whether or not your assistance will positively or negatively impact health. Additionally, I feel (or maybe I should say hope) that having an anthropological background allows individuals to not go into other countries or cultures with superiority and savior complexes. I think it is important to work with the communities and not try to tell them what’s best for them.

Reference(s) 

Tribal Jazzman Scholar. “”Medical Anthropology” – Tribal Jazzman Scholar, Episode #26.” YouTube. YouTube, 18 Feb. 2011. Web. Aug. 2014.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Josh Williams says:

    I thought shivani’s post on global health was very thorough and hit on a lot of major benefits that anthropology can have in the global health platform. I think another area in which anthropology can help global health is in the ethnomedical area. Shivani spoke a lot about the other cultures that we need to adapt to before we can help them find a solution I also think anthropology will help take what they find ethical into account as well. There are many cultures around the world and even the ones that live with us in the United States that find some of our health practices to be unethical like Jehovah’s witness’ view on blood transfusions. We need to make sure that on top of understanding their culture we also understand beliefs of these groups of people so that we do not have a negative impact on the communities by trying to implement something that they find unethical or immoral, losing the trust of these communities we are trying to help all together. Losing these communities trust early on due to a misunderstanding would be detrimental, especially when there is already a communication gap. Anthropology could help prevent events like this from happening and help us maintain healthy relationships with these communities we are trying to help.

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