I have learned a lot of different things from this class. One of the most interesting points we covered was the lack of integration with biomedicine and cultural traditions. The disruption of the Hmong and Inuit birthing practices by western medicalization was really troubling. It’s very frustrating for people of different cultures to come to the US to receive medical care, only to be told their cultures and traditional views are wrong. There’s also the issue of poor communication between doctors and nurses when dealing with immigrants. In “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”, the Lee family was completely misunderstood by the US physicians and healthcare system as a whole. Lia was removed from their care after it was discovered that she wasn’t taking her medications. However, it wasn’t till later that the CPS found out the family didn’t actually understand the instructions, as english wasn’t their first language. (Fadiman,1997). Things like this still happen today, but really shouldn’t. In this day and age it’s imperative that doctors and nurses are trained with how to properly communicate with refugees and also how to integrate biomedicine without shutting out a persons’ traditions and cultures. Another very important topic we covered was structural violence. According to Paul Farmer,”Structural violence is one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harms way. The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people.” (Gabriel, 2016). When Farmer discussed how a disease like Ebola would never cause the same amount of damage here in the US, it’s disappointing that in other countries it can be detrimental. Doctors in African countries are often taught to quarantine a sick individual instead of attempting to treat them. It’s vitally important for the health and safety of the US and the world, to donate to impoverished African countries and provide much needed supplies and training.(Farmer,2014). In order to improve the learning in this course I think the documentary “The Vital Other: Integrative Medicine and India”, could be added to the course. It discusses ayurvedic medicine and biomedicine and the integration of the two in India. This would be a great addition as it really shows how both cultural traditions and biomedicine can go hand-in-hand.
Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997.
Gabriel, Cynthia. “Critical Medical Anthropological Theory.” ANP 370 Culture Health and Illness. N.p., 2015. Web. 4 Aug. 2016.
“Dr. Paul Farmer on African Ebola Outbreak: Growing Inequality in Global Healthcare at Root of Crisis.” Democracy Now! N.p., 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 Aug. 2016.
The Vital Other: Integrative Medicine and India. Directed by Lan Angela Li. Performed by Dr. Narendra Bhatt, Dr.R.B. Gogate, Dr. Swati Mohite. May 8, 2012. Accessed August 17, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIj4C-XieaM.