Public Health

I chose to write about public health because it is an area of applied medical anthropology that I myself have considered getting a master’s degree in. I’ve been interested in pursuing a career in the medical field ever since I first started thinking about long term career goals, so when I had to make a decision public health was definitely a big consideration. There is so much one can do with a degree in public health. The issue of public health is an important one. Healthcare is more than just going to the doctors and getting prescribed a medication. It is giving patients the knowledge that they need in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. Public health deals not only with curing people and ridding them of their illnesses, but also to prevent diseases and sickness in the first place. I really like the idea of helping not just one patient, but a large group of people at once, educating them to live healthier, and therefore happier, lives. It is important for the people involved in public health to help people change their habits and lifestyles, to prevent things such as the obesity epidemic we are seeing take place in the United States. It is amazing how many cultural aspects one needs to consider when pursuing a career in public health. For example, our culture is very much used to taking pills in order to cure their sickness, but other cultures are unfamiliar with that kind of medication. One needs to take into account the cultures, lifestyles, religious beliefs, and more when trying to educate and help people of different cultures. Other cultures may be very hesitant to our type of western biomedicine because it is not what they are accustomed to. In order to effectively impact the people you are trying to help, someone in the public heath field must first find the cause of the problem, and then be sure to accommodate whoever it is they are helping, according to their own morals and beliefs.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Vanessa Salmo says:

    I definitely agree with what the author is talking about. It is very important to consider another person’s culture in order to be able to effectively treat a population with a disease or even promote preventative medicine like the healthy eating habits she’s talking about in her post. One thing I do think that needs to be expanded on is the idea that when a society has a set way of behaviors like the eating habits in the American culture it takes a very long time to change this. Public health officials are not able to do this overnight so they must take small steps to becoming a more healthy population. For example eliminating pop machines in schools or making hot lunches in schools healthier and less consistent of fried foods. Many people might be against changing the lunches in schools because it is more difficult to prepare and it is also more costly. The upside to doing this is that we teach the new generations of America how to make healthier choices which in turn and help the obesity rate in our country. Money is a big issue in the American culture. Usually this is the first thing that people think about however in another country this could be completely different depending on the economical and political constraints in the culture which is another thing influencing public health officials so this is where anthropologist come into play.

  2. Ethan Gotz says:

    Hey AnnMarie, I really like your comment especially the part where you talked about not just focusing on one patient at a time, but working to improve a whole community of people. I also agree with Vanessa and how she talked about taking smaller steps to make a change rather than just trying to make one big change. Continuing with her idea about the American diet and changing the lunches in school, I think that bigger food companies should take steps to improve the quality of food that we see in grocery stores. For example, canned and frozen foods are becoming more popular in today’s culture than ever before and is proven to be very convenient, but there are so many preservatives, sodium, and fat in these foods. Also, the meat that we would normally buy from Meijer or Kroger are often grown with hormones that may play a major role in the health of our body. These companies should work on providing natural grown meat and vegetables so that people are not taking in as many preservatives and sodium. After all, high sodium leads to all sorts of problems in the human body; including high blood pressure and kidney problems. These major food companies are in charge of what we eat and unless they provide better meals for us to eat, then Americans will most likely eat the same way as we have before, without much change, no matter how educated we are. If we have little access to healthy foods, many people will not go out of the way to improve their lifestyles.

  3. Nia Franklin says:

    I agree with what the author is saying. Public health is so important because it goes much farther than just prescribing a medication. Public health also focuses on preventing the disease or illness before it can even occur in an individual. I totally agree with the culture aspect of your post. Many other cultures that are not used to our western biomedicine may be cautious to be treated with pills. Just like the people in Africa dealing with the Ebola outbreak. They have certain rituals and beliefs that they do with the passing of a love one that isn’t necessarily safe or sanitary while dealing with this disease. They are also hesitant when it comes to being treated by us. During my stay in Japan I learned a lot about the differences in Eastern and Western medicine. The emphasis on natural and spiritual healing is far greater in the eastern part of the world than here in the west. In Japan when someone would go into surgery or just have a baby the patient would stay at the hospital for days on end because they are not only focused on healing physically but spiritually as well. In America you’re in and out. I think public health can learn and absorb new methods from different cultures.

  4. Taylor Cheney says:

    I definitely largely agree with why you believe public health is so important. I also, am preparing for a career in the medical field as a doctor, specifically in pediatrics or oncology in my future after graduating from Michigan State and going to medical school. I believe public health information is important to educate a large group of people as a whole as well. Informing people of things such as preventative measures for diseases as well as good health and lifestyle is important for doctors as well as other medical professionals. For example, aspartame is known for causing or making many health problems in the world today. If public health professionals educated people on the issue and discussed preventative measures for the diseases it may cause, maybe more people would be more cautious and at least aware of the issues that may arise from consuming things with aspartame in them. Anthropology is also important when evaluating and discussing public health because people all over the world have different beliefs and values. It is essential to be able to deal with and relate to people of different backgrounds with different beliefs while providing them while optimal care for whatever disease/illness they may have as well as helping them live a long, healthy life and prevent future complications.

  5. christopher reed says:

    AnnMarie makes a really good point about having to deal with cultural issues when working in public health. Public health is geared towards preventing disease, promoting health, and prolonging life through many different social institutions, so a keen understanding of these institutions and their place in society is imperative in achieving those goals. You place a big emphasis on the decisions of individuals on how they will consume healthcare, but it is also important to look at the broader institutions in order to improve the health of the general public.
    I think people generally like to do what they’re told when it comes to things as important as their health. So it is important to relay that information to them in an appropriate manner, without it being fixed by corporate interest. The drug ad exercise we did last week was a good example of how people can be treated for the wrong things based on biased information. I think that if we look to eliminating this type of disinformation from media, that may be a step in the right direction. Public health is in a lot of ways about changing culture to improve health, and I think that can best be done at a very large institutional scale.

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