W6 Reflection: Public Health

I chose Public Health because health is not only treating the physical ailments of the body but it is also healthy behaviors and practices that can prevent illness and prolong life. Public Health “works to track disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and shed light on why some of us are more likely to suffer from poor health than others.” [1] As I personally do not plan to enter the medical field but enjoy working with people and helping others, I find Public Health to be a valuable and good preventive tool within society that promotes overall health and safety and aligns closely to my desire to see a safe and happy community.

Taking an anthropological viewpoint fits nicely within the field of Public Health, as they are working within the community to educate about disease and illness and help to provide a well-balanced lifestyle. Public Health professionals help to bridge the gap between people and the medical field, making medicine more understandable and applicable to their lives. They also help the medical field understand the cultural demands of the patients that may be different or unique. It seems that anthropology has a place in almost any field. Understanding people and how society interacts with them and impacts their lives is critical to being able to provide effective and efficient medical treatment while being respectful and understanding of sociocultural differences. As we discussed previously, biomedical anthropology is a culturally constructed being, and anthropology is a fantastic way to not only be aware of this societal institution but to bridge the gap created between the layman and the professional. As Jessica stated in Lecture 6.1, “anthropologist are able to culturally contextualize these health programs and determine what the potential barriers to their success could be.” [2] They have training in interdisciplinary methods and are able to bridge the gap between two groups of people.

[1] “What Is Public Health?” What Is Public Health? Accessed August 14, 2016. https://www.apha.org/what-is-public-health.

[2] Jessica Ott, “Week 6: Lecture 1”, http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us16/lecture-videos/week-6-lecture-1/.

Campbell, Dave. “Anthropology’s Contribution to Public Health Policy Development.” McGill Journal of Medicine, 76th ser., 13, no. 1 (June 2011). Accessed August 14, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277334/.

5 thoughts on “W6 Reflection: Public Health

  1. Hey Linsey,

    I like how you described public health as not only treating the physical ailments of the body, but they take initiative in preventing illnesses; which can in return prolong life. Public health really tracks disease and narrows it down to determine the geographical location and the people that the disease is most likely to affect. Which gives us more of an advantage when trying to specifically aim to put a plan into effect, which can help treat these specific individuals, or figure out what is causing the disease to be so prevalent in these areas with these specific people. Also, I do agree with the face that public health attempts to build a bridge between the common person and the medical professionals. I think this is an important part that needs to be improved in today’s world. There aren’t many medical professionals now a days that are capable of having a conversation with an average person and are able to effectively communicate using their medical terminology. Public health takes a holistic approach to medicine, in attempt to not only heal the body but the mind, and prevent the illness from reoccurring. Which is why many people prefer to see the physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner, they tend to be more capable of expressing their thoughts using common terminology.

    Good reflection!

  2. I like how you describe that public health as the healthy behaviors and practices that help create a healthy society. Public health is also connecting people and medicine, I like how you say that it bridges that gap. This is exactly how I feel public health is. An important part of public health is education. Educating the public to create healthier behaviors and practices is one of the main goal of public health. Using an anthropological perspective it give us an idea of way a society may act the way they do and have a certain practice and public health officials can use that information to try and make effective change rather than forcing their ethnocentric ideals on a certain society. I feel that education is the most important and easiest way of preventing disease. You mentioned that public health is a good prevention tool in combating disease but it can be more effective with more perspectives like the anthropological one since they both study society in a way, more information about the society that better.

  3. I really enjoyed your post and agree with you on the idea of bridging the gap between two different groups of people. I found a lot of your points very strong but I find that in addition to your points, it is also important for those in public health to be an advocate for the population they are working with. It is will be our job to be the voice for those that cannot speak and educate the general public about issues that may be faced with various stigmas. Not only are we to bridge the gap between health care officials and physicians and individuals with needs, but society as well. It is important to remember that as a public health worker, we must work to inform and educate the public on different diseases/illnesses/syndromes, not only to prevent them but how to better treat and accept those that do. In order to better combat these diseases, we as professionals must work to inform the community and supply them with enough information and tools to lessen the frequencies. By understanding the population you are dealing with and knowing how their beliefs, background, and other social characteristics will affect their connection and overall treatment, a public health worker will be able to not only bridge this gap but also find a way to push past them, work with both sides, and accomplish much more with an anthropological approach. In doing so, not only will the individual or group have been possibility for success but also society as a whole.

  4. Hi Linsey,
    I think you had a really great evaluation of the field of public health and how it fits in with anthropology. I also like that you addressed the need for cultural competency in Public Health policy. I also really liked how you placed extra emphasis and importance on the anthropological lens being applicable in all fields. I completely agree that those in the area of health care, especially those in public health policy need to be aware of how people interact with themselves, others and the world around them. I think you are absolutely correct that these things have an impact on an individual’s health. I believe you touched on a lot on the field of public health. Along with culture, I think we need to take into account the race and gender of a person. Exposure to racism and sexism impacts a person’s overall wellbeing and health; I think public health researchers are beginning to take this into account. I also believe that public health policy is integral to social justice in that it can provide critique for unjust systems that adversely impact health. Overall I think you are right in that public health is a bridge between the population and systems that can benefit these groups.

  5. Hi Linsey- I enjoyed your perspective on public health and I appreciated the emphasis you put on a doctor’s responsibility to account for more than just a patient’s list of symptoms. It’s certainly true that doing so will lend to a more accurate diagnosis as well as an effective treatment the doctor and patient agree on, which, as you said, helps “bridge the gap created between the layman and the professional.” I also liked how you mentioned the value of healthcare providers who work with communities to help them learn about health and disease, a proactive method that supports a lifelong commitment to health rather than a reactive method such as treatment with medication. One other thing you could have mentioned was how these healthcare providers target communities in need of health education, and the way in which the information is presented changes depending on the particular members of the community. I say this because it is clear that much of the information provided to the public in regards to health caters towards wealthy white men and women, a format that fails to acknowledge cultural, religious or socioeconomic differences. If we present medical information to people in a way that they can understand and apply to their life, as you said, then this empowers people to take control of their own health in a way that suits their lifestyle.

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