We Are Here for Each Other

This has been my first anthropology class I have taken at Michigan State, and I have loved it. I am so thankful for my opportunity to open my eyes to the issues this class has brought into light. What I have learned from this class, is that health is not the same across the globe. Not only is health not the same, but if we step back, everything about everyone has it’s own unique reasoning. Something that may mean nothing to me, may be of upmost importance to someone of a different culture. This class has showed me that I need to be more culturally aware. Even when we are seemingly trying to help people (like treat an illness, or impose ideas/values we think are correct), we need to understand their viewpoint. We are so unique that no two single humans are identical and we should approach each situation, in regards to health, on an individual basis.

The medical world is so complex and complicated it is hard for any one single person to grasp all its ins and outs. There are secrets we will perhaps never know, and questions we may never find the answers to. I, myself, am quite interested in helping people who are made victims by todays unfortunate business aspect of medicine. Slowly, influential people (usually people who have the money hold the power) have transformed medicine into a business. The idea of what medicine is has been changed so there can now be a dollar amount placed on being healthy. How absurd of an idea this is! Dr. Sidney Wolfe talked about companies pay doctors to promote their drug. These drugs get forced on patients who do not need them, and sometimes even result in death for the ‘test subject’ (Wolfe, 2011). Taking this class has showed me how much corruption truly lies behind the scenes of medicine. We need to make this corruption more aware to the general public, and take actions necessary to decrease corruption in the future. It starts with people who are not egocentric but understand an altruistic approach to medicine will better benefit all people involved.

A book I would highly recommend for this course, or at least anyone who has interests about public health from a multicultural perspective, is Mountains Beyond Mountains. This has been the most influential book towards my reasoning for what I want to do with my degree in the future. The book tells a part of Dr. Paul Farmer’s story, who is an person of influential power, that uses it correctly (unlike CEO’s of corrupt pharmaceutical companies, or doctors that are looking to make a profit off of their patients). Paul explores many problems with todays medical world and the interwoven  social, economic, and political corruption we are all subject to, even if we do not choose to be aware of it. Farmer is a cofounder of Partners in Health, one of the world’s leading health providers to countries and people who truly need it. He talks about the idea that all the issues surrounding medicine today seem unsolvable, or too colossal to tackle. He reminds us that once he was an individual with only ideas as well, trying to fix global problems, which seemed impossible early on. Paul explains to approach the massive problems we face get together a likeminded group of people, who are motivated to do something. Him and his colleagues have changed the world of health and we can coattail off of Paul’s experiences. I hope one day I can have as a humanely positive impact on the world of health as Paul Farmer has today. Please check out Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, and be inspired as I was.

Wolfe, Sidney. Fault Lines – Outsourced: Clinical Trials Overseas. July 20, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_p0kmrFi_o

One thought on “We Are Here for Each Other

  1. Hi Timothy. I loved reading that you had such a positive experience taking this Anthropology course! As an Anthropology major myself, I am always happy to see others who have not been exposed to the subject be so interested in it. From reading what you have taken away from this course, it seems as if you have a great understanding of medical Anthropology now, too! My biggest takeaway from the course goes hand in hand with yours. One medical system is not the same as another and is not necessarily better or worse. I concluded that a combination of different cultural medical practices needs to occur for wholesome healing can truly occur for sick and hurt individuals. Doctors and other medical professionals need to learn about other cultural medical practices other than their own and view the patient as a whole before accurately being able to treat him or her.
    While I have not read Mountains Beyond Mountains, your explanation of the book makes me want to read it immediately. Paul Farmer seems like a very inspiring individual and has a great story. Thanks for sharing and I hope that you continue on your path to having a positive impact on the world of health.

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