Anthropologists wanted in the fight against TB

Paul Mason at Culture Matters starts of his post by writing, “If tuberculosis (TB) is so often described as the quintessential social disease, why aren’t more researchers in the social sciences and humanities studying this global problem?”. Indeed, in many ways TB has been more defined by its role in history and societal effects, than as an actual disease. Americans now seem to have a sort of romanticized view of it as something that led to the tragic, yet somehow poetic, demise of young artists centuries ago. In fact, as Mason points out, “TB remains second only to AIDS as the biggest infectious killer in the world despite the availability of effective treatment”. TB is still a great threat to the world, especially to the stability of fragile third world infrastructure. It’s a vicious cycle, TB exacerbates poverty and instability, yet poverty and instability are also the root cause of TB. Mason notes, “Developing the cultural competency of health workers around the world, engaging constructively with local communities, and creating more highly targeted communication strategies is key to the effective delivery of antibiotic treatment for TB”. Hmm, sounds like a job for an anthropologist.



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