Anthropological Contributions to International Health

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  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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