Public Health

The area/intersection of applied medical anthropology I chose to further investigate is the area of public health. Public health is something I am interested in learning more about and further researching for many reasons. Foremost, after finishing undergraduate studies here at Michigan State, I plan to pursue medical school in hopes of becoming a pediatric doctor as my future career. Public health is especially important for medical professionals to investigate and understand. Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promotion health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.” (WHO). As a doctor, it is crucial to inform the public of preventative health measures and ways to take care of and maintain a healthy body and lifestyle. Public health is necessary to inform the people around the world of proper health and body care as well as ways to seek treatment if necessary.

As a doctor, in the future, I will be an example of a medical provider working in the medical field yet not an anthropologist. I do, however, believe anthropology is an important aspect of working with medicine and health, too. An anthropological viewpoint would be advantageous as a doctor because it will help to better learn and understand  patients’ cultural beliefs and viewpoints while providing optimal medical care. Anthropology is important to a doctor because it will allow the doctor to make a connection with the patient as well as learning more about their background. Public health can educate society about preventative measures and ways to take care of your body, but social roles, economic statuses, as well as cultural beliefs all play a role in the way people treat their bodies.  I believe that an anthropological approach is important for understanding how various factors in patients’ lives contribute to a patient’s lives as well as disease/illness and impact the way a doctor may provide treatment to that specific patient.

Winslow, Deborah. “Fall at NSF Anthropology.” September 1, 2007. Accessed August 7, 2014.

“Public Health.” WHO. Accessed August 7, 2014.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Alexis Rife says:

    Overall, I think you covered most aspects of the advantages of an anthropological perspective on healthcare. I agree with your point about anthropologists helping doctors to make connections with their patients. It is important to establish a mutual trust between a doctor and his/her patient to help any healthcare methods to be successful. As we saw in the article “Why Anthropologists Join an Ebola Outbreak Team,” understanding the cultural beliefs of a given population is just as important as understanding the disease that affects them. Understanding both aspects of the individual or patient will, as you said, provide more optimal medical care. In the article, anthropologists discovered that the local population believed that the diseased patients were afflicted with gemo, or a bad spirit, which would latch onto anyone else that got to close. Doctors at first would isolate infected individuals and often bury them without the knowledge of family members. So, in the eyes of the locals, these foreign health officials would take sick people into isolation and they would never come out again which scared the locals into fearing the provided medical treatment that was meant to health them. Had the doctors understood the population’s belief in gemo, which created a natural isolation of diseased individuals, they could have worked with the locals instead of seemingly against them.

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