Week 5 Activity Post

The country I decided to focus on is Brazil and the issue that I chose for my topic is issues with poor maternal health. The theory that would best fit with my health issue would be critical medical anthropology. From our week one lecture, critical medical anthropology looks at how the behavior and attitude of the people in power affects the health of everyone else that does not have the same status. (Lecture 1.4 Introducing Theory 3: Critical Medical Anthropological Theory, Slide 1)  This theory looks at the economic or social status of that area and tries to find a relation to the people in that particular population. It effectively looks at biomedicine and the methods that are being used to determine what is happening in lower social status groups or minorities. One of the main focus in my final paper would be inequality in gender and the reason behind it. This theory helps us to look at why there are so many problems pertaining to maternal health, the factors that play into it, and possible outcomes if the situation does not change.  Critical medical anthropology will help us improve public health in the societies that are having economic difficulties. This theory brings together the outside factors and the biological factors to see patterns that affect the public health. In A Companion to Medical Anthropology, it was stated that the official version of medical anthropology was the “study of both human biology and the behavior of human groups” ( Sobo, 2011) Since my focus is specifically on women and how their maternal health is poor in Brazil, this study is necessary.

This theory would be the best way to further examine my health issue because my topic has to do with a specific group of people, women. I want to talk about how poor the maternal health is in Brazil and find the reasons behind it.  Some of the reason I have already seen have to do with the  gender of the group and the economic status. Many women are not given the right treatment when they go to the hospital. Some of these examples have to do with giving birth and getting abortion. Many women in Brazil receive C-sections when they give birth. When there are C-sections, there are automatically a lot more complications and that can be seen with the rate of death during birth being abnormally high in that country. A strict law has been passed in Brazil about women receiving abortion, where it makes it nearly impossible for them to get one. Because of that, many women try other means of getting an abortion and those means are harmful to them. This cause many deaths in women, as well as complications in giving birth. Doing the research I have done, I already see that there is considerably high levels of mortality in women and that their health is not a priority in Brazil.  I hope to use critical medical anthropology to see the political, economic, and social factors behind this. With that theory, I will be better able to understand the injustice in the health system in Brazil and the gender inequality that they have in general.


  1. ANP 270 Lecture 1.4 Introducing Theory 3: Critical Medical Anthropological Theory. (2018).  Retrieved from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/lecture-videos/critical-medical-anthropological-theory/
  2. Sobo, E.J. (2011). A Companion to Medical Anthropology-Chapter 1: Medical Anthropology in Disciplinary Context: Definitional Struggles and Key Debates.  Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/doi/pdf/10.1002/9781444395303.ch1

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