W5: Structural Violence and Education

When doctors look at diseases, they tend to see the biological and chemical aspects of the illness. When a medical anthropologist looks at it, they see the bigger picture: political, economic, and social standings. All three of those factors are often overlooked; however, they should not be.  The three factors put together with the effect they have on people is considered structural violence. Structural violence is “systematic ways in which social structures harm or otherwise disadvantage individuals” (Burtle, 2010). The way that social influence health care for lower standing people is just outrageous. It is a problem that needs to be fixed. Since our world is becoming increasingly more industrialized, we have to work to prevent the industrialization and increasing social structures from creating a wider margin of structural violence.

In the past, Ebola outbreaks have never really become an outbreak. They have been very easily contained due to the fact that the location of them was very under industrialized. This allowed for an easy quarantine to allow the contagions to go away. Today, there is more of a struggle to quarantine an outbreak of Ebola. We are finding that West Africa has become increasingly more industrialized. Due to this, we have seen an increase in travel throughout this area that is leading to an increase spread or transfer of disease. Also, Ebola is contracted from animals. There is a jump from the animals to humans. While West Africa is becoming more industrialized, they have been working on deforestation to make the area more industrial. When doing so, they are in close proximity with animals. This correlation is causing an increase in Ebola cases (Beaubien, 2014).

This level of industrialization is normal, but it had a negative effect on the Ebola situation. It caused an outbreak that was much harder to control. The indigenous people living there were uneducated about the disease and began fleeing the medical officials. They were afraid of what the doctors were there for and began to leave and runaway (Aizenman, 2014). When they ran away, it caused more people to get infected; therefore, it worsened the outbreak. In West Africa, they have less resources and money to spend on public education of diseases such as Ebola. Because they had less resources, they were unable to prevent health issues with their population. This is structural violence. It is something that is almost unavoidable nowadays, but that does not make it okay.

I think that we should not wait for an outbreak to occur to take action. I think that preventative measures should be in place to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola. In order to prevent what happened in future outbreaks, there are a couple solutions I think should be put in place; first, there should be money allocated to each country to be used for public education. Some countries that are not industrialized have people that do not know what certain diseases are. That is unfortunate and something that could easily be prevented with resources provided to educate the population. Also, the population should be educated on protocol. There should be a set protocol on who will help and how the help will be conducted. This will allow the population to be aware of how it will be. This is a solution to help reduce the stress and fear of containing an outbreak.

Although these solutions are on a bigger scale, I think that they are solutions that could easily be put in place. A little education in the indigenous areas of the world could go a long way, even if it was just in the areas that are beginning to develop. I think that even the smallest bit of education could work as a preventative measure in the outbreak of infectious diseases.

Structural violence has become a huge issue because certain places around the world do not have the resources to deal with health situations such as an infectious disease outbreak. I feel that the world should pitch in and help prevent these. All it takes is a little bit of education and knowledge.



Aizenman, Nurith. “Ebola Took Her Daughters and Made Her An Outcast.” NPR. August 25, 2014. Accessed August 05, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/08/25/342225542/ebola-took-her-daughters-and-made-her-an-outcast

Beaubien, Jason. “The Changing Face Of West Africa Has Fueled The Ebola Crisis.” NPR. September 5, 2014. Accessed August 05, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/09/05/346142023/the-changing-face-of-west-africa-has-fueled-the-ebola-crisis

Burtle, Adam. “Structural Violence.” Structural Violence. 2010. Accessed August 05, 2016. http://www.structuralviolence.org/structural-violence/.

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