I chose to write about epidemiology for this weeks reflection because the course of progression of a disease is something that interests me personally. I have always been dawn to figure out how things work and evolve and epidemiology is no different. It is also interesting to me to understand how we can prevent and control the progression of these diseases.
Looking at epidemiology from an anthropological perspective is important to the study of epidemiology when it comes to understanding the non-biological factors of progression of disease. An epidemiologist is only concerned with the physical aspect of the spread of disease but they do not investigate the cultural or or social impacts on the spread of disease. An example from this weeks lecture of the cultural impact on epidemiology is the spread of HIV in Africa through breastfeeding. There is a strong cultural role for the mothers to care for their children, and the threat of their child starving to death is worse than the threat of their child contracting HIV from breast milk. Another example of how anthropology is important when studying epidemiology is seen with the malaria nets example from lecture. The people do not want to use the malaria nets because they are uncomfortable to sleep in and they see the pesticides sprayed on the nets as a poison more dangerous than the malaria the net protects against.
The biological epidemiologists do not study this anthropological aspect of the spread of diseases and therefore are unable to effectively control the spread of the diseases. they can come up with as many vaccines to prevent the spread of a disease as they would like, but the vaccines will not be effective if the cultural view of the vaccine is to not use it. Same goes for any other form of protection against disease; if it isn’t going to be used it isn’t going to be effective.