Global Health

I choose to focus on global health because I have become more aware of how critical of an issue this is and how necessary it is for physicians to work together in order to improve the health of those around the world, especially those in third world countries who do not have access to the same medical care that we do. I recently traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, taking a study abroad course through MSU, and we spent time in several hospitals in the area and I was absolutely shocked at the conditions of the hospitals. The hospitals were dirty, crowded and chaotic. Many times we saw patients with serious skin infections who were unable to heal because the hospitals did not have the money or the proper antibiotics for them. They needed immediate systemic antibiotics through an IV, but were denied because that was very expensive and the hospital could not afford it. In the US, doctors would probably never see infections like we did, because it is so easy and simple for us to go to the store and get an antibiotic cream when we have an injury, and so our wounds would probably never progress to that level of infection. Our group also traveled to a very poor village in Santo Domingo, where we were able to check their blood pressure and listen to their heart and lungs. We were able to give some of the people medications if we had it with us, but once we ran out, their were many people who were left untreated, which was very difficult to do. This trip truly opened my eyes and made me want to become more involved in improving global health. For people like those living in the Dominican Republic, it should be our responsibility to treat these people who so desperately need medical care. We have all of the knowledge and resources, we just need to have the desire to help. The advantage of having an anthropological perspective in healthcare is that they focus on discovering why a certain disease is occurring or is increasing in the number of cases. For instance, HIV is still prevalent in the Dominican Republic, and so anthropologists will work to find out why a particular group of people is becoming diagnosed with the disease and determine if there are any confounding factors such as poverty, overpopulation etc. Anthropologists can also be seen as “mediators” between the patient and the physician. They work to gain the trust of the patients in order to treat them effectively. In the article “Why Anthropologists Join an Ebola Outbreak Team,” the anthropologists observed the customs and traditions of the people in Uganda, so that they could understand why the natives distrusted and disliked the medical team who was trying to treat them and their loved ones.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Alison Johnson says:

    I really liked how you mentioned that from an anthropological perspective anthropologists are able to see why a certain disease keeps spreading or why it is happening in the first place. I am also planning on studying global health and find it necessary to use an anthropological approach to look into healthcare. The Dominican Republic did not have as many resources or money as the United States as far as their healthcare goes, but maybe from an anthropological perspective you could further study the reasoning behind their healthcare. In instances such as people getting infections because they aren’t receiving the proper antibiotics medicine in time, it would be beneficial to investigate if their entire population is treated this way, or if just the people of lower social or economic status are. From an anthropologic perspective we could also look into their social structures more. The government isn’t able to provide their people with healthcare, and it sounds as if the hospitals themselves are struggling. What are the restrictions limiting the budget of their hospitals? We could look into how their healthcare system is set up, and see if other aspects of the medical field are receiving more aid than others.

  2. Natasha Mehta says:

    Your post is extremely interesting. As I wrote about the importance of global health knowledge in the medical field, I didn’t think of the aspect of how other countries are handling illnesses caused by foreign agents, I mainly focused on US doctors and treating foreign illnesses in America. I agree that the importance of better medical care around the world is completely necessary. While I’ve never been to a hospital in a foreign country, I have visited a few third world countries, and I can only imagine the state of the hospitals of some of these places. As you described, for many people in rural countries, their only option is to go to these dirty, ill equipped hospitals, and because they have such poor health care, their infections become much worse than they would in a first world country, and it becomes a vicious cycle of the sick getting sicker. The only way to prevent this is to examine how important medical anthropology in global health is, and for leaders of the world to understand how important it is. Having a better understanding of how important effective healthcare is will urge our leaders and our society to make greater changes.

  3. holechri says:

    I really liked how you began the post with the concept as to how global health is important for the efforts made for medical professionals to work together in providing assistance during medical emergences. I did not know about HIV being prevalent in the Dominican, however I can see how it would require assistance from other sources in order to provide assistance. The primary thing I was looking for while reading your post was to see if you had some similar thoughts to the way the anthropological approach can benefit these situations. The fact that doctors from the US can learn from these types of patients really show the benefit these approaches have. Another thing that I found as a decent argument for this topic was that through the combination of learning from one another, the full understanding of cultural backgrounds towards treating foreign diseases as well as the different methods of alternative medicine. As the other commenter suggested as well, the topic can go into the breakdown of social structures. Who is getting the medical assistance and who is not? Is anyone receiving the treatment needed? These are all questions that could be observed and answered through the study of these diseases from other viewpoints.

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