W6 Refleftion: Epidemiology

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.

One thought on “W6 Refleftion: Epidemiology

  1. HI! Your post is really well written and I really enjoyed it. I chose to write about global health but they can all relate in some way, right?
    Medical anthropologist are so important when studying both global health and epidemiology because they can bring so much to the table when looking at other aspects that influence the spread of disease like culture and social effects. While other medical staff do not look into these other factors, their treatments may be of no use because the patients, like with the malaria nets, would prefer not to use the nets. Therefore, while medical anthropologist are looking at these other impacts, they can help find other ways to treat the patient that would actually help prevent or stabilize their illness when other doctors who only look at biological impacts, would miss these other ways of treating their patient.
    Global health is the same way. Because we are looking at the entire world with areas having the same illness, there may be different routes that the illness may have taken. Medical anthropologist would be best at looking at the many different cultures and environmental factors that contributed to that illness and how it got there. Since, it is global, of course there are going to be many different steps for each individual person and that it where anthropologist come in to help .

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