Ecological Medical Anthropology
In basic terms, Ecological Medical Anthropology is a branch of anthropology which focuses on health and preventive wisdom, having studied the “organism”, or person’s relationship within their environment. In terms of a medical anthropology, it only makes sense to consider the person’s ecological relationships.
As an example: Say you visited a village which has shown extremely high mortality rates during pregnancy. That is to say, there is ample proof that the health of pregnant women and their babies is clearly at risk. Death of pregnant women, death during childbirth, after childbirth and infant mortality rate is high.
The first question is why. This question must be met with a satisfaction of several criteria and the ecological aspect of the women’s lives is profoundly important to the decision as to how to curb the risk factors.
One of course will want to know the person’s actual, personal living conditions, nutrition, work habits as well as one’s access to health care. There is the issue of genetic influence concerning disease, as well as individual health history.
Religion too, must be taken into account. ( There is a certain African island where a number of Islamic Arabs live and they refuse preventive medicine offered for cholera and polio, believing the vaccines to be “unholy”.)
The variant negatives of poverty must be analyzed carefully. If a woman suffers from anemia during pregnancy, she can receive iron tablets. However, if the water she drinks is full of bacteria, then there is another concern altogether. Or perhaps there are environmental issues due to pollution.
If other countries are involved in contributing to the general welfare of the population, one must be keen to those influences as well as the language, law and politics thereof.
Ecological Medical Anthropology also analyzes the history of the environment of the organism, as well as the overall medical evolution and social reactions to medical intervention. Including, but not limited to pharmaceuticals, clinics and educational institutions.
An Ecological Medical Anthropologist must overcome any language barriers and often times, superstition, or distrust due to racial/political history which has occured during intrusions.
Ecological Medical Anthropology is an analytical, ambassadorial relationship with environments to foster increased quality of health care as much as possible, through research and other empirical means, though morality is not an issue. Often times, the researcher is met with a complexity of issues, both social and political.
There is an abstract quality of issues to be considered within any environment, not just the typical S. O. S. signal sent out. This type of anthropologist must have a strong understanding of history, science and human nature, as well as the ability to acclimate quickly and discern basic human codes.
Critical ecological medical anthropology:
Selecting and applying theory to anemia during pregnancy on Pemba, Zanzibar:Sera L.Young http://www.seg-sse.ch/pdf/ma_14-2_young.pdf