Sunday, October 4, 2009

Culture, Medicine, Politics

i don't enjoy hearing about politics, much less reading about politics -- likely because i'm sick of the way media bends and twists politics.

lately, i've been reading some books about the idea of anthropological medicine in the US. one book was about world-wide vaccinations against infectious diseases (like tuberculosis and aids) sadly, politics played a starring role / luckily money from wealthy backers has helped out.

i'm reading all about the way western medicine/science clashes with various cultures that are steeped in superstition and shamanism. apparently, one major issue with the merging of western meds with other cultures boils down to patient, or parental, compliance.

from the couple of books that i read, the most success is had when the western doctors actually take some time to learn about the cultures they're treating and allow the patients their own use of their idea of medicine (when it doesn't hurt the patients to do so)

we all read about the odd christian cult person who won't allow medical doctors or western medicine to treat their family member. (usually a kid) and the gov't has to get involved. often, the patient(usually a child) becomes the focus of a religion(woo) vs. medicine(science) battle.

thing is -- there are lots of other cultures out there who feel the same way.
(ie, they distrust western medicine/doctors and don't allow for western medicine in their cultural healing parameters.)

i ran across a book about Hmong immigrants to the US.
i'd never heard of the Hmong until i read this book a couple of weeks ago.

i am serious. i've never heard of the Hmong.

i feel like a stupid american.

(particularly when you consider the role that these people played in the vietnam war in laos -- the "silent" part of the war)

i know i'm not stupid, but it's disturbing that i was never told about this in school -- not even in college.

i wonder what else we don't know? it makes me have empathy for some political conspiracy theorists.

supposedly, medical schools are teaching cultural anthropology.

none of this had never interested me before because i am an insulated and well-taken care of US citizen.

fat and happy.

i did mention insulated, right?

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