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Anthropological Contributions to International Health

As mentioned in our April 25th blog post in honor of  World Malaria Day, AAA recognized this important day with a special virtual issue of Medical Anthropology Quarterly. This special edition re-released articles which demonstrate ways that ethnography and human behavior studies help to change care management and public health policy.

Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, particularly those living in lower-income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO calculates that every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria. By joining the global movement to roll back these staggering statics on malaria, anthropologists serve as catalyst around the world to research the medical and cultural impacts of this disease and share their findings to help count malaria out.

In the past weeks, each article has been featured here on the AAA blog. Here is the final of seven highlighted articles:

Urbanization, Dengue, and the Health Transition: Anthropological Contributions to International Health
Carl Kendall, Patricia Hudelson, Elli Leontsini, Peter Winch, Linda Lloyd and Fernando Cruz
Medical Anthropology Quarterly, September 1991

A host of resurgent diseases, many in newly created urban environments, challenges the assumptions underlying anthropological contributions to international public health programs. Past programs validated local knowledge about acute and well-known disease conditions and encouraged self-help and participatory approaches to respond to these problems. This article discusses the changing picture of health conditions in urban settings by examining local responses to one problem, dengue hemorrhagic fever, in a new program designed to test several earlier assumptions.

To read the entire article, click here.

One Response

  1. Public health is often described as having the population or community as its patient, in contrast to the individual-level focus of clinical medicine. This focus on community creates a natural foundation for partnership between public health and anthropology, which takes as its primary focus the study of people in groups, and especially in local communities. Anthropology has four major subfields: cultural anthropology, physical or biological anthropology, archeology, and linguistics. Crosscutting the subfields are several subdisciplinary foci that have much to contribute to the achievement of public health objectives. The most important for public health is medical anthropology, a field that first emerged as a coherent subdiscipline in the 1950s and has rapidly grown to become one of the largest areas of research and practice within anthropology. The richness of this subdiscipline is apparent in the range of theoretical perspectives encompassed by it.

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