The readings from this week focus on methods to disease control in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through the eyes of anthropologists, Abramowitz and Saez discuss the spread of the recent Ebola outbreak and approaches to preventing the disease in their articles. For example, Abramowitz, in his article, lays out a list of actions that could be taken by anthropologists to bridge the gap between ‘the global and the local’ in order to minimize the spread of Ebola and improve the global response to this outbreak.
In the article by Buchardt, Patterson and Rasmussen, the role of religion and religious organizations to facilitate mobilizations against HIV/AIDS is discussed. African states are viewed as neo-patrimonial, whereby patrons use resources from the state to secure the loyalty of clients in the general population. The authors draw examples from Islam and Christianity to emphasize on religious and spiritual practices and attitudes that have formed certain negative beliefs about the disease among its believers. They also mention the practice of witchcraft to understand and ‘cure’ this disease. The dynamic between religion and HIV to give meaning to the movement(s) of people to seek for solutions is one of the most important topics that the article seems to emphasize on.
The effect of both Ebola and HIV/AIDS among people of affected states in Africa is not a usual topic of discussion in newspapers and/or other forms of news reporting. These three articles as well as the short video, in that sense, look at the issue using different perspectives to give its readers an insight to not only the lives of those getting affected, but also of those around them. While the first two articles were predominantly about moving away from traditional practices of disease control, the third article touches upon the cultural and religious side to some of the policies that are currently in place, and that came to be from years of history through the practice of religion. The video was very interesting to watch because it showed the vulnerability of people being affected by it and doctors/nurses who were initially treating these patients. The lack of resources to protect doctors and nurses creates a very helpless situation for both sides, yet there was very little that could be done to reverse the situation.
I think that Abramowitz focuses too much on the academic side to respond to the treatment of Ebola, which blends in well with the other two articles. The three compliment one another pretty well, but I am sceptical about how the international society will handle the distribution of anthropologists in all the states and areas in which they are needed. Furthermore, based on the education available in a lot of countries in Africa, all levels of anthropology will be needed to educate those in need – as listed in one of the steps by Abramowitz – and to also treat the disease.
- If anthropologists from around the world worked to minimize the spread of Ebola, would they consider the diverse cultural and religious values in different parts of Africa despite unforeseen limitations that they might create?
- How can doctors and nurses in small towns be protected against Ebola?