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Anthropology in public health emergencies: what is anthropology good for?


Stellmach, D and Beshar, I and Bedford, J and du Cros, P and Stringer, B, Anthropology in public health emergencies: what is anthropology good for?, BMJ Global Health, 3, (2) Article 000534. ISSN 2633-3767 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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© 2018 Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article). All rights reserved. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000534


Recent outbreaks of Ebola virus disease (2013–2016) and Zika virus (2015–2016) bring renewed recognition of the need to understand social pathways of disease transmission and barriers to care. Social scientists, anthropologists in particular, have been recognised as important players in disease outbreak response because of their ability to assess social, economic and political factors in local contexts. However, in emergency public health response, as with any interdisciplinary setting, different professions may disagree over methods, ethics and the nature of evidence itself. A disease outbreak is no place to begin to negotiate disciplinary differences. Given increasing demand for anthropologists to work alongside epidemiologists, clinicians and public health professionals in health crises, this paper gives a basic introduction to anthropological methods and seeks to bridge the gap in disciplinary expectations within emergencies. It asks: ‘What can anthropologists do in a public health crisis and how do they do it?’ It argues for an interdisciplinary conception of emergency and the recognition that social, psychological and institutional factors influence all aspects of care.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:disaster and emergency response, anthropological methods
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Anthropology
Research Field:Medical anthropology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Health protection and disaster response
UTAS Author:Stellmach, D (Dr Darryl Stellmach)
ID Code:154268
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:33
Deposited By:Policing and Emergency Management
Deposited On:2022-11-17
Last Modified:2022-12-20
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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