Ebola, Culture, and Politics

Ebola, Culture, and Politics

The Anthropology of An Emerging Disease

Book - 2008
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Cengage Learning
In this case study, readers will embark on an improbable journey through the heart of Africa to discover how indigenous people cope with the rapid-killing Ebola virus. The Hewletts are the first anthropologists ever invited by the World Health Organization to join a medical intervention team and assist in efforts to control an Ebola outbreak. Their account addresses political, structural, psychological, and cultural factors, along with conventional intervention protocols as problematic to achieving medical objectives. They find obvious historical and cultural answers to otherwise-puzzling questions about why village people often flee, refuse to cooperate, and sometimes physically attack members of intervention teams. Perhaps surprisingly, readers will discover how some cultural practices of local people are helpful and should be incorporated into control procedures. The authors shed new light on a continuing debate about the motivation for human behavior by showing how local responses to epidemics are rooted both in culture and in human nature. Well-supported recommendations emerge from a comparative analysis of Central African cases and pandemics worldwide to suggest how the United States and other countries might use anthropologists and the insights of anthropologists to mount more effective public health campaigns, with particular attention to avian flu and bioterrorism.

Book News
This case study, aimed at anthropology undergraduate students, describes the efforts of a medical intervention team working in Africa to control an Ebola outbreak. Barry Hewlett and Bonnie Hewlett (anthropology, Washington State U., Vancouver) were invited by the World Health Organization in 2000 and 2003 to Uganda and the Congo to assist in the containment of the outbreak. They also discuss their field experiences with Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Gabon in 1997, the literature on human perceptions and responses to other high-mortality diseases, and a biocultural model that explains cross-cultural patterns. They discuss political, structural, psychological, and cultural factors, and conventional intervention protocols, as well as the stigmatization of healthcare workers. They end with a consideration of implications for their research for understanding the use of Ebola as a bioterrorism weapon and the threat of the bird flu pandemic. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Belmont, Cal. : Thomson/Wadsworth, c2008
Edition: Student ed
ISBN: 9780495009184
Characteristics: viii, 183 p. : ill., maps, charts, photos. ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Hewlett, Bonnie L. (Bonnie Lynn), 1961-


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