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Article

Doug Henry and Lisa Henry

This article details the contributions of applied anthropology to public health, focusing on complementary and divergent interests, orientations, and methods. We emphasize areas where productive collaborations have occurred around convergent topics such as infectious and chronic disease, policy, interventions, and analysis of the social, political, and economic contexts that structure the conditions of health. Public health’s emphasis on community and advocacy provides a natural entry point for anthropology’s ethnographic method that emphasizes spending time with a community and understanding aspects of culture and health from its peoples’ perspectives. When a multidisciplinary team meets on a common interest, such as improving public health, everyone’s interests become better served if each discipline’s perspectives and values are recognized. Anthropologists with careers in public health can expect to engage in formative research to help develop the most appropriate health interventions, evaluate community uptake or rejection of public health initiatives, or critically examine the effects of national or global policies on local populations.

Article

Emily Mendenhall and Svea Closser

Global health can be understood as part of a larger history of global cooperation that reflects and enacts uneven politics, power, and privilege on an unequal earth. Global health emerged in the early 21st century when the groundswell of money for HIV/AIDS transformed the field, and a global orientation, as opposed to one of international relations or modularity, took hold. It is rooted in a long history of wealthier countries intervening in poorer countries with the stated aim of improving health—often with other goals, including economic power or winning hearts and minds. This history has been told by historians of medicine, as well as anthropologists. The idea of “global health” references the fact that health problems are concentrated not only in poorer countries, but rather around the world in resource-constrained settings, including rural areas and those that have been systematically cut off from services. The infusion of money for HIV, largely from wealthy nations, including the United States, positioned decision-making in global power centers that reflected a holdover from previous epochs of international health and colonial medicine. As in earlier eras, the period of global health was one where the focus was often on short-term, measurable outcomes achieved through top-down programs that sidestepped government infrastructure and development. This lack of sustained attention and support for national governments’ ability to build sustainable, broad-based health systems underlines long-standing concerns around the utility of technical solutions for health problems when long-standing social and economic political and policy problems are overlooked.