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Disease, Illness, and Sickness in a Time of Cholera.docx

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Western University
Anthropology 2290F/G
Gerald Mc Kinley

Sept, 17, 2013 Disease, Illness, and Sickness in a Time of Cholera -This documentary’s narrative is presented by doctors and the people living in Haiti themselves dealing with the disease either as victims or those treating them -The director comes at us like this is almost an ad you would see for a charity but more subtle and he wants to show that the disease is a nightmare for the country but also to show there is hope and progress is being made -They explain the basics of the disease in how it enters our bodily and water systems and the effects from there but they do it in a way that is easily understandable for a large population and it almost seems like something you would see in a high school biology class -They do show that the disease commonly strikes in impoverished areas but they don’t really get into the social factors leading to this because they are more focused on general education about the condition -The narrative is presented by the filmmaker himself because he is the one talking to the people in Angola and there are also statistics present throughout to show the mortality and causes of cholera -It shows the education of children about safe practices and what to do if a family member is infected as well as how to treat their water with chlorine -Again this video reminded me of commercials asking for donations to charities especially when it showed the small children in hospitals but I think the real focus of this video was education and showing that by simply telling the people how to make things cleaner they will follow through but you have to start young -This video does not get into the social factors related to poverty with the disease but it is obvious because of the location where the video was shot and the conditions of the hospital -This video was something more that you would show to children because it is not scientific in its approach but it does provide all the necessary information to keep cholera out of a village and the fact that the main person passing the information in a little boy is trying to show that children have a role to play and if education starts with them there will be big changes -The video is very effective because in a short time span it effectively shows how to prevent cholera outbreaks, how to keep clean and safe when it is around, and what to do when someone is sick -The textbook provides the following definitions (all on page 36): -Disease is a “biological problem involving abnormality in the body’s structure, chemistry or function” (medical focused) -Illness “refers to a patient’s experience of something wrong, a sense of disruption in well-being that may be the result of disease or caused by cultural beliefs” (personal focused) -Sickness is “focuses on the consequences of social response to a person” and their personal experiences with disease and illness (socially focused) Cholera as Disease: -Cholera is a communicable disease because it is transmitted from person to person -The basic definition of cholera from the WHO states: “Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and produces an enterotoxin that causes copious, painless, watery diarrhoea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients” -Epidemiology has tracked the disease from the Indian subcontinent around the world and the vibrio cholerae bacterium is most commonly spread from person to person as a water born disease -Because the bacterium lives in the intestinal track it is more likely to spread when there is no disconnect between water used for the elimination of human waste and drinking water -Diagnosis for cholera is dependent upon Vibrio cholerae O1 or O139 being confirmed in the patient with diarrhoea but an oral vaccine against cholera exists and is used by Doctors Without Boards as a means of preventing the disease -Treatment for the disease is a combination of antibiotics to reduce the effects of the vibrio cholerae bacterium and oral rehydration salts to maintain fluids but despite the ease of treatment the WHO estimates that between 100,000-150,000 people die from cholera each year Sept, 17, 2013 -Because cholera is a fast spreading disease action must be taken to provide treatment, locate the source and clean up the water within days of the outbreak Note: -In terms of medical anthropology the next two sections are very important because as medical anthropologists we are interested in the way that people encounter disease, illness and sickness at a cultural and social level -We need to pay attention to the way that people talk about cholera while also paying attention to how and why it moves through a population the way it does (ex: we need to consider why someone does not have safe drinking water and how they relate the disease to their socio-economic condition) -If we assume that personality is, in part, dependent upon culture for its development then we must also assume that the lines between illness and sickness are blurred in spots. Cholera as Illness: -When we think about cholera as an illness a good place to start is how a person or community understands causation and causation here is defined as the method of transmission of the disease -A worker with the WHO that is trained in Public Health will assume causation in a manner similar the one described above so simply put, the person who is infected with cholera will have somehow ingested the Vibrio cholerae O1 or O139 bacterium -Upon diagnosis the patient would be treated according to WHO guidelines however, consider the cholera outbreak in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake -Voodoo used t
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