Cultural anthropology is essential for addressing Ebola
Discover Magazine reported on a conference on anthropology and Ebola held at the George Washington University in November that convened nearly twenty anthropologists to brainstorm about how to better address Ebola through the inclusion of cultural knowledge. The article mentions several anthropologists, academics and professionals working in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, including Sharon Abramowitz of the University of Florida, one of the effort’s organizers. The article quotes Edward Liebow, executive director of the American Anthropological Association, one of the co-sponsors of the conference: “Epidemiologists are making oversimplified assumptions about transmission, setting these wild upper limit bounds…We’re in a position to actually breathe life into the numbers, to put people into those positions, to make much more realistic assessments of near-term and longer-term predictions.”
For instance, anthropologists’ understanding of things like upcoming seasonal migrations to harvest rice could help in predicting the spread of Ebola beyond what epidemiological models will show. Anthropologists possess knowledge essential for better medical and public health practice. A challenge is to move that knowledge to practitioners and have them incorporate in changed practices.
- Medical anthropologist on the Colbert Report
Luminary anthropologist Paul Farmer recently appeared on The Colbert Report. Colbert kicked things off by asking Farmer to take his temperature since he (Farmer) had recently been in West Africa. Colbert then pops the question, from an innocent and supposedly naïve perspective, “Why do you want to provide health care to the poor all over the world?” In discussing the connection between poverty and illness, Colbert asks, “Is being poor contagious?” Farmer says, “In a way it is.”
- Anthropology kudos in the news
The Albany Business Review reported on this year’s career achievement award from the Society for Medical Anthropology to Susan Scrimshaw, president of the Sage Colleges. Among her many accomplishments, Scrimshaw recently co-chaired an Institute of Medicine workshop on community-based health education and its implications for the Ebola outbreak. (more…)