Should we all be anthropologists?
Understanding human beings is the first step tomount an effective response to HIV/AIDS, argues Catríona Macardle
Once upon a time doctors and medical students were primarily concerned with two things-bugs and drugs. But winds of change have blown through educational establishments, and now the emphasis is increasingly on putting the patient first as a person rather than a diseased being. However, compared with spending an extra hour learning cell signalling pathways that will yield high marks in an examination, attending lectures on culture is often unappealing. Lecture halls lie empty; the students who do attend are often catching up on their sleep-all except (perhaps) that one eager student at the front who keeps asking questions and inevitably ensures that the lecture runs over.
Many of you may shun “touchy feely” lectures and strive as doctors to prevent or cure diseases by using factual information learnt from books, lectures, and observing patients. The belief is strong in Western medicine that a disease exists in a global context