Global Health

I choose to pick this intersection of applied medical anthropology because I believe it is one of the applied medical anthropology intersections that has the largest impact on health as a whole since global health issues effect everyone no matter where they reside. Global health is a powerful tool in medical research because it can allow people to communicate ideas about healing across great distances and introduces medical technologies into local communities that need them. It deeply applies to my personal interests and future career since I strive to become a physicians assistant in an effort to positively impact ones health through the use of my medical intervention and knowledge. I would love to travel to a different country and help combat illnesses in other areas. I think global  health really emphasizes the spread of knowledge, and the medical technologies we posses in the United States could be utilized elsewhere in order to greatly improve living conditions. This is why I choose to go down the medical path, I do not just want to be able to help the citizens of my country, but also travel and spread health awareness to those less fortunate.

If I were to be working for someone, such as a doctor who is not an anthropologist I believe I could add viewpoints outside of the typical medical approach that could lead to further help in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. When going to another area of the world and spreading health, conditions are normally much different than any conditions seen in the United States. Therefore, while doctors traveling to con tries to help are doing so medically, anthropologists can take a look at the situation, such as living conditions, economy, interactions between cultures, political organizations, and planetary ecology. Through incorporating these ideas into treating a certain illness in a community, efforts can be made in order to understand why this illness is occurring and how in order to assess and treat it in the most effective and useful manner. Only this can be done through applying anthropology along with medicine. Simply treating an illness medically can immensely help in the present but by also incorporating anthropological tools, the illness can be impacted more effectively and hopefully for a longer duration. Incorporating these ideas is important, as we have seen in the reading “Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Culture Competency and how its fixed.” Here is is said that cultural factors are in fact crucial to diagnosis, treatment, and care. they shape health related beliefs , values, and behaviors. So medically treating a population in a cultural acceptable manner is assessed through the work of an anthropologist on a global scale, not simply old plain medical intervention from the usage of a doctor.



Benson, Peter. “Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Cultural Competency and How to Fix It.” Open Access. Accessed August 8, 2014.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. shivani says:

    Shelby brought up a lot of great points on the merits of medical anthropology within global health. Using these medical anthropological approaches provides a better channel of communication which can result in better treatments and care (potentially). Ergo the ethnomedical approach is quite crucial to global health. A good example of its importance was shown in “Medical Anthropology” by Tribal Jazzman Scholar. In this video, Tribal Jazzman discusses the case of a Peruvian village that was being introduced to IUDs by some organization. This organization failed to take into account the local cultures and customs when they decided to provide these IUDs to help with family planning, etc. In this culture, women who were menstruating were unable to handle food. When they started using IUDs, it would increase the duration and severity of their periods, so it would result in them being secluded for longer periods of time which, in turn, impacted the community negatively. The IUDs, which were supposed to benefit the community, harmed it. In addition to all of this, I think having this kind of background would hopefully decrease the amount Western superiority complexes and ethnocentrism that often occurs when you have Western doctors going to communities that don’t operate on the same biomedical platform. I say hopefully because there are unfortunately still anthropologists who have that kind of mind set.


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

  2. sarah rousakis says:

    Really enjoyed your post. I definitely agree that global health is extremely important. As future workers in the medical field, we will have the knowledge and the technology and the resources to help those around the world who do not have the same access to medical care as we do. Those working to improve global health are able to work with different clinicians around the world in order to treat people with various diseases. In the case of the Ebola outbreak, people from the CDC, the WHO and other organizations are working extremely hard in order to contain the outbreak and help treat those who have contracted the disease. When everyone works together for a common goal, each with their own knowledge and resources, the outcome can be spectacular. In my reflection, I specifically talked about my experience to the Dominican Republic where I saw so many people with serious skin infections or other illnesses that we do not see very much in the US,such as tuberculosis or dengue fever. These people would most likely not be treated if they did not have money because the hospitals do not have medication and will not treat patients who cannot pay. So these people would be left untreated and to suffer. If we were able to use our resources to help those who do not have access to medication in these areas, we could help so many people, and truly make a difference.

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