Epidemiology

Epidemiology literally means the study of diseases. The definition of this field caught my attention because I wondered how such a broad thing could be simply defined and studied under one topic. My interests led me to take a course in epidemiology last semester and as I suspected, the topic was so broad, we studied general methods and could only focus on one disease, bone health because it was my professors speciality. This area of applied medical anthropology is very necessary especially in our world today. There are so many new diseases and disease mutations that are becoming more and more dangerous and have no cure. The recent Ebola outbreak in places in Africa is one of such diseases that is becoming an epidemic and we still do not have a cure for. We have HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer.. all diseases that have no cure. A lot of research,money, time and effort has been and is being invested in studying these diseases and trying to contain and hopefully cure them.

When epidemiologists study disease, they are mainly concerned with how it might be spread, the consequences for the population. They are more concerned with preventing secondary and primary infections before treatment. They also consider a very important part of studying a disease and trying to treat it to contain or prevent outbreaks, the culture. Anthropology uses different approaches like the biomedical, ecological and the experiential approach among others that I believe will be useful to an epidemiologist. I believe in round about way they already apply some of these. Epidemiologists to do not only study the disease itself from the biomedical side, the look for direct and indirect causes which play into the bio/eco approach. These indirect causes include lifestyle, culture and practices like we saw in the youtube video this week. The video about how introducing IUD’s in a village deprived the children of care and healthy meals for longer periods because they had a practice of keeping menstruating women from kitchens and other people.

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